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U.S. to raise concerns on China's aggression in high-level meeting

ROC Central News Agency

03/17/2021 04:40 PM

Washington, March 16 (CNA) The U.S. administration will make clear its "deep concerns" about China's increasingly aggressive activities across the Taiwan Strait during an upcoming meeting between top U.S. and Chinese officials, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan are set to meet with Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), the director of China's Central Foreign Affairs Commission, and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) in Alaska on Thursday.

It will be the first in-person meeting between top U.S. and China officials under U.S. President Joe Biden's administration.

In a background briefing on Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said that the meeting in Alaska is intended as an initial discussion to understand the interests, intentions and priorities of both sides.

"We think it's really important that our Chinese interlocutors hear from Secretary Blinken and from National Security Advisor Sullivan directly about our priorities and our intentions," as sometimes Beijing thinks that the public message from the U.S. may differ from its private message, the official said.

It is important, therefore, that the U.S. dispel this notion early on, the official said, which will include "making very clear our deep concerns about a range of issues, whether it's Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Chinese economic coercion of our allies and partners, or China's increasingly aggressive activities across the Taiwan Strait."

The meeting is also aimed at displaying that the current administration is unified and coordinated when it comes to China policy, the official said.

In the past, China has attempted to play favorites within various administrations, the official said, in particular by "playing the secretary of state and national security advisor off each other."

With both Blinken and Sullivan attending the meeting, it will demonstrate that "the games that China has played in the past to divide us or attempt to divide us are simply not going to work here," the official said.

In general, the meeting in Alaska will be on the broader strategic level. The meeting is not a resumption of any particular dialogue mechanism, nor will there be a joint statement issued afterward, the official said.

According to several experts on U.S.-China policy, the meeting is an opportunity for both sides to talk directly, though it is unlikely to yield any breakthroughs.

The meeting will not "dramatically alter the direction" of U.S.-China relations and will be "more of an exercise in setting the mood music for the relationship" rather than discussing specific concerns in detail, Ryan Hass, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CNA.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the meeting is an opportunity for officials to talk behind closed doors instead of speaking to each other through "megaphones," such as public speeches and statements.

"Expectations should remain low," she added.

Stephen Young, a former director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), told CNA that he expects the Biden administration to "lay down a marker with China on its aggressive behavior" in the Far East region, including the South China Sea, Taiwan, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

Douglas Paal, also a former director of AIT's Taipei Office, said that he does not expect "constructive outcomes" on major U.S.-China issues to emerge from the meeting, although he said there is a possibility that the two sides could come to some agreement on more "peripheral issues."

These include Myanmar, North Korea, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Paal said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Stacy Hsu and Chiang Yi-ching)


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