Blinken and Sullivan try to talk tough but miss the mark.

by Joseph Klein,

The Biden administration held its first face-to-face meeting with the Chinese regime last week. The American side was represented by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser. Their counterparts were Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. While most of the discussions in Anchorage, Alaska were held behind closed doors, the public open session set the table with an exchange of insults that resembled an ugly food fight.

Blinken and Sullivan tried to put on a show of tough talk concerning a range of issues dividing the United States and China. They pointed to China’s abysmal human rights record, especially against the ethnic minority of Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang province, and China’s suppression of freedoms in Hong Kong. They accused China of engaging in cyberattacks and using coercive actions in the military and economic spheres. “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken declared to the Chinese delegation sitting across from him. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”

What Blinken and Sullivan failed to mention in their opening remarks is more striking than what they said. They ignored the giant elephant in the room – the coronavirus that originated in China and the Chinese regime’s coverup of the truth about the virus’s human contagion until it was too late. Blinken and Sullivan lost a valuable opportunity to ask their high-level Chinese counterparts why, if China’s government has nothing to hide, it did not provide the World Health Organization’s investigatory team that recently visited China unfettered access to China’s laboratory facilities and personnel. Why all the stonewalling?

China’s officials sternly replied to the public statements by Blinken and Sullivan and the tone in which the statements were delivered. Director Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi essentially told their U.S. counterparts that the United States does not speak for the world and should clean up its own messes before presuming to lecture the Chinese or butting into China’s internal affairs. The strategy was to turn the tables on the United States and put the Biden administration’s senior representatives on the defensive.

“The United States itself does not represent international public opinion, and neither does the Western world,” Director Yang said. “I don’t think the overwhelming majority of countries in the world would recognize that the universal values advocated by the United States or that the opinion of the United States could represent international public opinion, and those countries would not recognize that the rules made by a small number of people would serve as the basis for the international order.”