Defense

Top Biden officials to meet with Chinese in Alaska

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Top Biden administration officials will meet with their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska, later this month, the State Department announced on Wednesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo, while in Alaska.

State Department spokesman Ned Price announced the meeting in a statement that did not specify the issues that the group would discuss.

“The meeting will take place following Secretary Blinken’s meetings with two of our closest regional allies in Tokyo and Seoul. Secretary Blinken and NSA Sullivan will discuss a range of issues with the” People’s Republic of China, Price said. “Secretary Blinken will return to Washington, D.C. on March 19.”

Asked about the meeting during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing later Wednesday, Blinken described it as “an important opportunity, for us, to lay out in very frank terms the many concerns we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the United States and our allies.”

“We intend to raise, and we will raise, the host of issues, some of which have already been touched on today that concern us. We’ll also explore whether there are avenues for cooperation and we’ll talk about the competition that we have in China, with China, to make sure that the United States has a level playing field and that our companies and workers benefit from that.”

Blinken said that the meeting did not represent a “strategic dialogue” and said there were no plans to have follow-on engagements with China unless Beijing changes its concerning behavior.

The South China Morning Post reported earlier this week that both sides were attempting to set up a meeting in Alaska.

Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to travel to Japan and South Korea next week, in what will be the first overseas trip for senior Biden officials.

The meeting between the U.S. and China is likely to touch on issues including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and China’s behavior in Hong Kong. Biden has made clear he wants to work with Beijing in areas of shared interest but intends to press China on its human rights and economic abuses.

Biden held his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in February during which he raised concerns about a range of issues.

“Of course, there’ll be a range of engagements that the President and his National Security team will have with China and other countries in the region in the months and years ahead, but we are directly engaged,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday when asked about reports of a potential meeting.

“There are a range of issues we, of course, have talked with the Chinese about through those engagements.  We don’t hold back about our concerns, but we also look for opportunities to work together,” Psaki added.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.

Tags Alaska Antony Blinken biden administration China Chinese officials Foreign policy Jake Sullivan Jen Psaki Joe Biden Lloyd Austin meeting Security State Department

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