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High-level U.S.-China talks end on acrimonious note 

All Sunday papers reported extensively on the conclusion of two days of a high-level dialogue in Alaska between the U.S. and China on Friday, saying that the two superpowers ended their first round of talks under the Biden administration without reaching any substantive agreements. Instead, the two sides were sharply at odds over a host of bilateral, regional, and global issues, such as human rights in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tibet and cyberattacks. Climate change, North Korea’s denuclearization, and Iran’s nuclear development were the only areas in which the participants agreed to cooperate.


Asahi observed that the international order will continue to be shaken by the conflict between Washington and Beijing, which it projected will persist for many years to come. The daily said Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan entered the talks with the goal of conveying the Biden administration’s concern about China’s diplomatic conduct around the world. The daily added that China’s primary intention in the Alaska session was to demonstrate at home and abroad that Beijing is now on an equal footing with Washington in international geopolitics, quoting China’s de facto top diplomat Yang as saying: “The U.S. does not represent the world…. It is not qualified to speak to China from a position of strength.”  


Yomiuri noted that the Biden administration is poised to take a hard line in dealing with China in coordination with U.S. allies, explaining that the new approach was adopted while taking into account the Obama administration’s “weak-kneed” posture that failed to rein in China’s rise and the Trump administration’s disregard of alliance relations. The daily said Secretary Blinken’s stance during the Alaska meeting offered an indication of the new U.S. approach toward China. 


Nikkei argued that the Anchorage “showdown” was a revival of the East-West confrontation that is far older than the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, expressing deep concern that the intense rivalry may even hamper cooperation between the two nations over such pressing challenges as the coronavirus pandemic and global warming. While noting that China warned Japan against further deepening cooperation with the U.S. following the recent 2+2 meeting, the paper said Tokyo will need to renew its commitment to advancing the trans-Pacific alliance in the face of Beijing’s likely use of economic and trade tools aimed at preventing it from enhancing anti-China cooperation with Washington.  


Sankei opined that the Alaska session was the opening salvo in a power struggle between the democratic nations headed by the U.S. and an autocratic regime determined to alter the status quo in the international community. The daily said attention is focused on whether Washington will be able to continue to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing, warning the Biden administration against taking a conciliatory approach when China employs various tools to seek U.S. concessions.  

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