The US had previously imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over a crackdown on political freedoms in the region

China and the US hold their most tense summit yet

AP/CAROLYN KASTER - Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vice President Joe Biden at Andrews Air Force Base

The Biden administration has come on strong and taken over from its predecessor Donald Trump, and not in a good way. It seemed that Joe Biden's arrival in the White House would bring a return to more pacifist policies. But the latest actions of the new administration suggest just the opposite.

One of the first measures taken by the Biden Administration shortly after arriving at the White House was to bomb northern Syria, this week it called Vladimir Putin a "murderer", and now it is China's turn. At the first high-level summit between US and Chinese foreign and security policymakers, the US accused the Asian giant of "threatening the rules-based (world) order that maintains global stability".

This first high-level summit has turned into a diplomatic battle between the two powers that, instead of bringing positions closer together, has caused an even greater rift between the two sides. Anchorage, capital of the state of Alaska, was the chosen venue for this meeting, which was already expected to be tense after the imposition of sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials due to Beijing's repression of political freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese region.

Atalayar_Antony Blinken

Accusations between the two countries ran rampant throughout the meeting. The first to light the fuse was US Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who blamed Beijing for carrying out cyberattacks and violating the rights of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, the people of Tibet, and the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan, whose independence Beijing threatens. For their part, the Chinese representatives did not allow themselves to be pushed around and categorically replied that "it is important that the United States stops promoting its democracy in the rest of the world", stressing that "the United States does not represent the world". 

China referred to the Black Lives Matter movement and the race riots that took place last year in the US: "Many people in the US have little confidence in US democracy". "We do not believe in invasions with the use of force, the overthrow of other regimes and massacres of people from other countries," stressed Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Wang Yi.

Atalayar_Xi Jinping

Moreover, Chinese representatives have already made clear their opposition to US interference in internal affairs. "We have expressed our firm opposition to such interference, and we will take firm measures in response," he said. The US delegation described these threats as "grandstanding". In the words of a senior White House official in Anchorage, "the Chinese delegation appears to have come here with grandiloquent intentions that place more importance on staging than substance, as well as skirting protocol".

Blinken responded defiantly that "it is never good to bet against the United States", to which National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan added, referring to China: "a self-confident country is capable of taking a hard look at its own shortcomings and constantly seeking to improve".

Atalayar_Jake Sullivan

All in all, this summit has demonstrated how out of sync the two countries are. The change of Administration in the United States has not meant a change of narrative in foreign policy towards China, which is expected to be more tense than ever. The new Administration has chosen to strengthen its relations with its usual Asian partners, such as Japan, in order to form a common front against China. During his Asia-Pacific tour, Blinken has been keen to reiterate the US commitment to protecting the Indo-Pacific, including India as a counterweight to the Asian giant. On Wednesday, the Secretary of State denounced Beijing's maritime expansion around the Senkaku Islands - claimed by China and Japan and located in the East China Sea - and Taiwan in Tokyo.

During his subsequent stop in Seoul, the last stop on the tour before the Alaska meeting, Blinken defended the importance of trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea to "ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific" during a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong.

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