Top US and China diplomats to meet in Anchorage

A white man in a tie stands in front of some flags
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2021. (Ron Przysucha/State Department)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with top Chinese officials next week during a stop in Anchorage.

The news was first reported by South China Morning Post and confirmed by Blinken Wednesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting. Blinken said White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will join him.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said having the meeting in Anchorage was a Biden administration nod to Alaska’s strategic location. He said he met with a top White House official about the summit. 

“I think they wanted the first high-level meeting with the Chinese on American soil, which of course we are, but we’re also strategically located. That makes it a very natural place to meet,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “So from my perspective, that’s good news.”

At the House committee meeting earlier Wednesday, Blinken signaled he would be firm with China at the upcoming summit.

“This is an important opportunity for us to lay out in very frank terms, the many concerns that we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, the prosperity and values of the United States and our partners and allies,” he said. 

Chinese officials have expressed interest in easing tensions with the U.S. after the Trump administration sanctioned Chinese tech companies and imposed trade tariffs.

RELATED: Seafood Trade Relief Program offers help to fishermen hurt by U.S.-China trade war

During its first few months, the Biden administration has projected a tough line on the China’s economic and military ambitions and human rights abuses.

But Blinken said there are areas where the two countries could find agreement. 

“We’ll also explore whether there are avenues for cooperation,” he said. “And we’ll talk about the competition that we have in China with China to make sure that the United States has a level playing field.”

In 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping stopped in Anchorage and met with state officials, including then-Gov. Bill Walker. That kind of meeting appears unlikely this time: A spokesperson for Gov. Dunleavy referred questions to the state department and said it didn’t have any additional information on the meeting.

Sullivan also said it was “unlikely” he would be present at the meetings. 

The hearing will be held on Thursday, according to a statement by Sullivan.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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