Authors: Antony Blinken,
Jake Sullivan, Yang Jiechi,
Affiliation: US Secretary of State, US National Security Advisor, China’s Director of the Central Foreign
Affairs Commission Office, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
Organization/Publisher: Nikkei Asia
Date/Place: March 19, 2021/New York
Type of Literature: Transcript
Word Count: 4,700
Keywords: US, China, Diplomacy, bilateral relations, Alaska, Anchorage, Trade, Security
Diplomacy as a word took entire political and diplomatic observers by surprise when the Chinese side put forth its point in their first high-level engagement with the US on March 18, 2021 after bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington nose-dived under Donald Trump. “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” roared Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, when he along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his colleague National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. All eyes were set on the meeting held in Anchorage in the US state of Alaska – a major point for oil refuelling for airplanes which fly between the two countries. The meeting transcript, if anything, is a sign of fast evolving diplomatic engagements particularly with the US. Soon after Blinken finished his opening remarks, he asked the media to leave the meeting room. Yang intervened. He asked the pool of reporters to stay back and note the Chinese response which opened a window on China’s assertive foreign policy towards the US. However, Wang’s tone was conciliatory. “Anchorage is the midpoint of the air route connecting our two countries, and it is fair to say that this place is a refuelling station for China-US exchanges and also a place that China and the United States can meet each other halfway.” His use of words to strike a chord with the US side is akin to balcony diplomacy when two diverging sides talk with a glass in their hands overlooking a magnificent view.
China and the US are movers and shakers of the global economy and military strength. The public tit-for-tat rebuke may be a show for their constituencies, but what is evident is Beijing has made its mind to call a “spade a spade.” Washington of course used Uyghur human rights violations, national security law in Hong Kong, the issue of Taiwan, and alleged cyberattacks by the Chinese on America, against Beijing in its introduction to the two-day meeting.
By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate