White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday confirmed that the US will host Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, next week for the first substantial bilateral talks under President Biden.
The meeting will occur on March 18 or 19 with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese officials including foreign minister Wang Yi.
“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 said at her daily press briefing.
“The meeting is an opportunity to address a wide range of issues, including ones where we have deep disagreements,” Psaki said.
“We intend to discuss our expectations and we’ll be frank in explaining Beijing’s actions and behavior… and our concern about challenges they pose to the security and values of the United States and our allies and partners.”
Psaki said there also will be talk of partnership with China.
“We also talk about areas where we can cooperate — of mutual interests. And we’re coming to these discussions, of course, clear-eyed,” she said.
“The meeting also provides an opportunity to emphasize how the United States will stand up for the rules-based international system and a free and open Indo-Pacific. As the president has said, we approach our relationship with the Chinese from a position of strength in lockstep with our allies and partners.”
Biden last month had an introductory phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. So far, Biden has kept many of former President Donald Trump’s policies toward China. He has not relaxed tariffs on Chinese goods or relaxed sanctions against officials.
Trump claimed during the presidential campaign that China would “own” the US if Biden won, in part because of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China.
As president, Trump at first cultivated a personal relationship with Xi and joked that he would like to make himself “president for life” as the Communist leader had done.
But the bond soured after Trump engaged in a trade war aimed at forcing a deal to reform economic policies. The Trump administration also worked to convince allies to ban Chinese telecom firm Huawei from 5G infrastructure projects over security concerns.
US-China relations plunged last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump authorized sanctions against Chinese officials for eliminating Hong Kong’s political autonomy and for mistreating Uyghur Muslims. He vowed to “decouple” the US and China economically in response to deception in early data on COVID-19.
Trump last month bashed Biden for rejoining the World Health Organization without insisting that China pay a greater share of the WHO’s expenses. Trump exited the organization over its acceptance of false Chinese data on COVID-19 before the virus spread and caused an economically ruinous and deadly pandemic.