Last week, delegates from the U.S. and China met in Alaska for a summit in the midst of worsening relations between the countries. The meeting marked the first dialogue between the nations since Joe Biden's presidency began in January 2021. The results were non-existent, with the U.S referring to the talks as "tough and direct" and with the two nations seeing little improvement over their relationship.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said of the event, "We do not seek conflict, but we welcome stiff competition, and we will always stand up for our principles, for our people and our friends." China echoed this point, but questions have been raised over the fairness of this “competition” in the first place as China’s economy continues to grow rapidly and their cyber-attacks do not appear to be stopping any time soon.
In front of the camera, the policy discussion was televised and had explosive introductions with Chinese officials going on a near 20 minute opening bashing of the United States as hypocritical (among other things). The results left little doubt of the strained nature of the countries’ geopolitical relations. U.S officials brought up China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong, Tibet, its cyber-attacks and pressure on Taiwan.
This was retorted by Chinese officials who called America racist, citing the Black Lives Matter movement, and America’s own human rights abuses. Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, Yang Jiechi countered many of the U.S points by telling them to butt out of internal matters and saying the U.S uses its financial and military might to bully countries. He further stated that America was foolish to attack China on such matters without looking at their own history.
During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, warned that China's actions risked making the world a more dangerous place, citing the above claims of human rights abuses. After the meeting, U.S. diplomats accused China of grandstanding on America's fractured race relations and international perceived treatment of African-Americans.
Officials from the Chinese Communist Party have stated that America is their geopolitical rival. While former President Donald Trump initiated a trade war against China, none of the former administration's policies have been rolled back despite Biden's administration stating they want to work with China on common issues.
The meeting, which is to be a one-off event, didn't bear fruit. Some diplomats found it to be a difficult situation, as many of the current diplomats find themselves in their positions, because Biden canvassed on fractured issues of race with BLM, leaving them stumped to deny Chinese claims of American hypocrisy on race relations.
Aside from the strong disagreements, the two seemed to have shared interests in Iran, North Korea and climate change. Chinese State Councillor, Wang Yi, went on to say on Chinese television that they told the U.S that China's sovereignty was not to be underestimated and that Beijing was determined to defend it. This follows in the same week where Biden called Russian President Putin a "killer", to which his Russian counterpart responded by saying, "it takes one to know one."
In a week of political blood sporting among America's rivals, the attacks on both the president and the United States grow as the Biden presidency begins to defend its geopolitical standing.