November 30, 2023

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a press conference after he restored diplomatic relations with Kiribati on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA on September 27, 2019.

Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters

WASHINGTON – For the first time since President Joe Biden took office, senior US officials will hold high-level face-to-face meetings with Chinese officials in Alaska next week.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will meet with Yang Jiechi of the Communist Party’s highest decision-making body and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 18 in Anchorage, Alaska.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday it was important for the government to hold the first meeting on US soil. She added that Blinken and Sullivan are entering the talks with clear eyes and ready to discuss a number of issues with the Chinese.

“The meeting will take place after Secretary Blinken’s meetings with two of our closest regional allies in Tokyo and Seoul,” the State Department wrote in a statement on Wednesday. Blinken is expected to go on his first trip abroad as Foreign Minister next week.

In February, Blinken and Yang held their first call and discussed a number of topics. The top US diplomat stressed human rights and the ongoing military coup in Myanmar, while Yang urged Washington to respect China’s sovereignty.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to U.S. Department of State officials during U.S. President Joe Biden’s first visit to Washington, DC on February 4, 2021.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Tensions between Beijing and Washington increased under the Trump administration, escalating a trade war and helping to ban Chinese tech companies from doing business in the United States.

Over the past four years, the Trump administration blamed China for a variety of abuses, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and, most recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, who spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping last month, previously said his approach to China would differ from that of his predecessor in that he would work more closely with allies to achieve a backlash against Beijing.

“We will face China’s economic abuse,” said Biden in a speech at the State Department, describing Beijing as America’s “most serious competitor.”

“But we are also ready to work with Beijing if it is in the US interest. We will compete from a position of strength by improving at home and working with our allies and partners.”

Last month, Biden announced a new Department of Defense task force to assess the US military’s China strategy.

“This is how we will meet the China challenge and ensure that the American people will win the competition in the future,” said Biden on his first visit as the Pentagon in chief.