Will the Alaska meeting ease tensions or worsen relations between the US and China?

Mar 17, 2021

There is an important face to face meeting between the US and China on Thursday in Alaska. But our media seems disinterested.

The virtual QUAD meeting at the weekend attracted some media attention if only to give a glossy rerun to the public relations statement put out by the US president and the prime ministers of Japan, India and Australia.  There was little media interest in getting behind the window dressing to examine two things.  First, that the QUAD meeting attempted to roll back the Chinese vaccine diplomatic successes .  Second, that it was an attempt to help cover the tracks of Big Pharma which, with the support of wealthy countries in the WHO including Australia  has acted to refuse a waiver of patent monopolies.As a result poorer countries will be denied access to vaccines. Australia does not accept that vaccines should be a public good.

To those that have, more will be given.

But little media attention has been given to the meeting in Alaska on Thursday between the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Chinese top diplomat Yang Jiechi and others.

To help fill the Australian media void there may be some interest in three overseas reports of the coming Alaskan meeting.

Aljazeera on 12 March reported that ‘Blinken called the meeting an important opportunity to lay out in frank terms many concerns the US has with Beijing’s actions.  …  He also said discussions will also explore whether there are avenues to cooperate with China.’

The Washington Post reporting on  11 March saidThe Biden administration’s ability to broker a productive relationship with China while hammering it on human rights issues faces its first test next week when senior US officials meet their Chinese counterparts in Alaska.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken … accused China of carrying out genocide against its Muslim minority communities and ruled out granting concessions to Beijing in order to reduce its carbon emissions.’ 

A Chinese Global Times  correspondent was more optimistic in a report of 11 March.  He said ‘The arrangement shows that the two governments need to re-engage in dialogues after suffering the huge damages to China-US relations under the past four years of the Trump administration.  There is hope that through high-level talks, the direction of the two countries’ relations can return to a stable and constructive development track.’

However, the Global Times also in an editorial on 11 March was more sceptical.  ‘If the US simply wanted to lecture China on how it should behave, the talks would be useless.’ 

Blinken is reported as saying that that is exactly what he will do!

We will see.

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