No easy fixes as US, China diplomats meet in Alaska

Anchorage, March 18 (AFP/APP):US and Chinese diplomats were to meet Thursday in Alaska for their first face-to-face talks since President Joe Biden took office, with the world’s top two powers set to discuss a laundry list of issues on which they diverge broadly.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing remain high after relations were pitched into turmoil during Donald Trump’s presidency, which saw a damaging trade war and spats over everything from defence to tech and rights in Hong Kong.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan were set for talks with senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi later Thursday.
With its frigid temperatures and remote, Pacific location, Anchorage was considered a more neutral meeting ground than Washington or Beijing for the three-session summit that finishes Friday morning.
But expectations are limited on both sides.
As the diplomats landed in Alaska ahead of the talks, a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing issued a warning to Washington.
“China has no room for compromise on issues concerning its sovereignty, security and core interests,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
Zhao urged the United States against talking tough and engaging in “megaphone diplomacy” toward China after Washington said it intended to show its firmness against Beijing after a round of alliance-building across Asia.
“The US should meet China halfway and conduct the dialogue in a sincere and constructive manner,” Zhao said.
Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the talks would have a limited impact.
“They will probe whether there is common ground on some issues and whether there are ways to manage and even narrow their differences,” she told AFP.
“Expectations should remain low. A reset of the relationship is not in the cards.”
The last meeting between the two rivals in June did nothing to help thaw frosty relations that resembled a new Cold War by the end of Trump’s time in office.
Biden has maintained a tough line on China, and Blinken has said it represents America’s “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”
Still, the Biden team has said it wants to engage diplomatically on the world stage, in a pivot from Trump’s isolationist and ally-berating stance, particularly on issues such as climate change, the pandemic and the non-proliferation of weapons.

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