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World Joe Biden Won't 'Pull Any Punches' on China, State Department Says Before Pivotal Talks

13:55  12 march  2021
13:55  12 march  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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President Joe Biden's administration won't "pull any punches on China" as Antony Blinken meets with Beijing officials for the first time next week, the State Department has said.

a man standing in front of a computer: Delegates leave the National Peoples Congress as a security guard looks on at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on March 11, 2021. © NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images Delegates leave the National Peoples Congress as a security guard looks on at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on March 11, 2021.

The secretary of state's talks with Chinese officials in Anchorage will be the first face-to-face meeting since Biden's inauguration, and come amid tensions between the White House and Chinese Communist Party over human rights abuses.

Blinken is also due to meet with his counterparts from the other Quad nations—Australia, India and Japan—on Friday as the administration looks to establish a multilateral strategy to contain the authoritarian CCP.

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Blinken wrote on Twitter this week that he and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan would "engage on a range of issues, including those where we have deep disagreements" at the two-day meeting with senior official Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday that Blinken—and the administration more broadly—would not fold on key areas despite Republican concerns that the White House is not being tough enough on Beijing.

Price said the White House planned "to engage Beijing from a position of strength," raising grievances and competing with China where necessary. The U.S. will defend allies and speak out against "the PRC's affronts to many of these shared and even universal values, whether that's in Xinjiang, whether that's in Hong Kong ... whether that's in Taiwan," he added.

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The administration's early exchanges with Beijing have been tense. Biden has expressed support for pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong and Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, prompting fury from the CCP.

Yang and Wang have both warned the U.S. not to cross China's "red lines." These include Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which are all considered domestic affairs in Beijing.

"There will be some difficult conversations, I would expect," Price said. "We will certainly not pull any punches in discussing our areas of disagreement."

"What we expect is for Beijing to demonstrate seriousness, to demonstrate seriousness regarding its own oft-stated desire to change the tone of our bilateral relationship," Price said.

"We'll be frank in explaining how Beijing's actions and behavior challenge the security, the prosperity, the values of not only the United States but also our partners and allies."

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Price said the U.S. officials would also look for areas where the two sides can cooperate—for example, on climate change—but only where this benefits the American national interest.

Biden vowed on the campaign trail to take a hard line on China, trying to neutralize accusations by Donald Trump and his allies that the former vice president could not be trusted to stand up to Beijing.

Polls indicate that Biden's foreign policy platform has the backing of most Americans and that respondents want his administration to take on China over a raft of malign behaviors including human rights abuses, questionable trade practices, territorial disputes, and the origins and spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the same polls also show that Americans are not yet convinced the president will be strong enough to take on the CCP.

His administration has so far twinned tough rhetoric on American values with a commitment to cooperation where possible. Price said on Thursday that the U.S.-China relationship was "multifaceted" and "primarily and fundamentally a relationship that is predicated on competition."

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He added: "Our goal when it comes to our relationship with Beijing, our approach to Beijing, is to compete and ultimately to out-compete with Beijing in the areas that are competitive. There are, of course, areas in this relationship that are adversarial."

The spokesperson pointed to America's "long litany of disagreements" with China, including "Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, pressure on Taiwan, broader human rights abuses, the South China Sea, the Mekong, economic pressure, arbitrary detentions, the origins of COVID-19, other issues."

Biden has vowed to revitalize American alliances and work towards multilateral solutions to global challenges. His administration has been working to improve ties with Asian allies in its effort to undermine Chinese regional influence. Blinken's Quad meeting on Friday is part of this drive.

"Calls to our treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific were some of the first that the secretary made upon his confirmation," Price said.

"We recognize that Quad members are uniquely positioned to help lead the region out of crises and to help move the region towards the more positive vision we all seek," Price added, although he noted the alliance was "about more than any one particular challenge."

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US ties with Russia, China sink as Biden toes tough lines .
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. relations with its two biggest geo-political rivals are facing severe tests as President Joe Biden tries to assert America's place in the world and distinguish himself from his predecessor. Airing myriad complaints, the Biden administration took an extraordinarily tough line with China and Russia this past week. Public spats between the countries erupted as Biden characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” and his top national security aides excoriated China for a litany of issues.

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