US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with top Chinese officials on March 18 in Alaska, the White House said on Wednesday, the first high-level in-person contact between the two sparring countries under the Biden administration.
The meeting, taking place on Blinken’s return from his first overseas trip to key US allies Japan and South Korea, will come amid what is shaping up to be a major US diplomatic push to solidify alliances in Asia and Europe to counter China.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan will join the meeting in Anchorage with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding the administration would approach its relations with China “in lockstep” with its partners.
“It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials be held on American soil, and occur after we have met and consulted closely with partners and allies in both Asia and Europe,” Psaki told a news briefing.
She said the meeting would be “an opportunity to address a wide range of issues, including ones where we have deep disagreements.”
China’s foreign ministry on Thursday confirmed the meeting.
Commenting on the talks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China hopes the United States can move relations back onto a “healthy and stable” track, view relations objectively and rationally, forsake the Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset, and to respect China’s sovereignty, security and interests.
Zhao also urged the United States to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and to manage differences between both countries.
President Joe Biden’s administration has committed to reviewing elements of US policies toward China, as the world’s two largest economies navigate frosty relations that sank to their lowest depths in decades during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Testifying before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Blinken signaled next week’s meeting would not be a return to regular senior-level dialogues used under past US administrations, which had been increasingly criticized in Washington for yielding little progress on US grievances with Beijing.
“There’s no intent at this point for a series of follow-on engagements. Those engagements, if they are to follow, really have to be based on the proposition that we’re seeing tangible progress and tangible outcomes on the issues of concern to us with China,” Blinken said.