Written by REUTERS
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Senior U.S. and Chinese officials concluded on Friday what Washington called “tough and direct” talks in Alaska which laid bare the depth of tensions between the world’s two largest economies at the outset of the Biden administration.
The run-up to the talks in Anchorage, which followed visits by U.S. officials to allies Japan and South Korea, was marked by a flurry of moves by Washington that showed it was taking a firm stance, as well as by blunt talk from Beijing warning the United States to discard illusions that it would compromise.
“We expected to have tough and direct talks on a wide range of issues, and that’s exactly what we had,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters moments after the Chinese delegation left the hotel meeting room.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, standing beside Sullivan, said he was not surprised that the United States got a “defensive response” from China after it raised its concerns over Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as over cyberattacks and pressure on Taiwan.
But Blinken said the two sides also had intersecting interests on Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and climate change.
“On economics, on trade, on technology, we told our counterparts that we are reviewing these issues with close consultation with Congress, with our allies and partners, and we will move forward on them in a way that totally protects and advances the interests of our workers and our businesses,” Blinken said.
Members of China’s delegation left the hotel without speaking to reporters.
After pointed opening remarks here on Thursday from Blinken about China’s challenge to a rules-based international order, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi lashed out with a speech criticizing U.S. democracy, and foreign and trade policies.
The United States accused China of “grandstanding” for its domestic audience, and both sides suggested the other had broken diplomatic protocol.
The rebukes played out in front of cameras, but a senior U.S. administration official told reporters that as soon as media had left the room, the two sides “immediately got down to business” and held substantive and direct talks.
SHIFT IN EMPHASIS
While much of President Joe Biden’s China policy is still being formulated, including how to handle the tariffs on Chinese goods implemented by his predecessor Donald Trump, his administration has so far placed a stronger emphasis on democratic values and allegations of human rights abuses by China.
“I am very proud of the secretary of state,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday morning when asked about the previous day’s meeting.
In recent weeks, top Republicans have given a nod to efforts by Biden, a Democrat, to revitalize relations with U.S. allies in order to confront China, a shift from Trump’s go-it-alone ‘America First’ strategy.
Biden has partially staked his approach on China to rebuilding American domestic competitiveness, and several top Republicans, whose cooperation will be crucial to the success of those plans, backed his administration in the face of the heated exchanges from the first day of talks.
“I have many policy disagreements with the Biden Administration, but every single American should unite against Beijing’s tyrants,” Republican Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement.
While Biden’s two-month old administration is still conducting China policy reviews, Yang and Wang by contrast are veteran diplomats with decades of combined experience handling U.S.-China relations at the highest levels of the Chinese government. They are also fresh off of dealing with the Trump administration and its unorthodox approach to U.S. foreign policy.
China’s social media carried comments saying Chinese officials were doing a good job in Alaska, and that the U.S. side lacked sincerity.
“My sense is that the administration is testing the question of whether it is possible to get real results from these dialogues,” Zack Cooper, who researches China at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said of the U.S. side.
Dean Cheng at the conservative Heritage Foundation said China’s global influence had grown to the point where it felt it could openly deride the U.S. system.
“That is a vision from the Chinese perspective of, ‘you need me, I don’t need you,” Cheng said.
China on Friday put a Canadian citizen on trial here on spying charges, and potentially plans to hold the trial of another Canadian on Monday, cases embroiled in a wider diplomatic spat between Washington and Beijing.
State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter reiterated U.S. calls for China to release the two men, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, from “arbitrary and unacceptable” detention during a regular briefing in Washington.
The Chinese military also banned Tesla cars from entering its housing complexes, citing security concerns over the cameras installed on the vehicles, according to two people who saw notices of the directive.
China says China-U.S. talks were candid, constructive and beneficial
By Reuters Staff
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, said two days of talks with the United States in Alaska that ended on Friday were candid, constructive and beneficial, while adding: “But of course, there are still differences,” China’s CGTN television network reported.
Yang said “the two sides should follow the policy of ‘no conflict’ to guide our path towards a healthy and stable trajectory moving forward,” the network said on Twitter.
It said Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi, who also took part in the talks in Anchorage, said China had made clear to the U.S. side that sovereignty was a matter of principle and it should not underestimate China’s determination to defend it.
Tesla cars banned from China’s military complexes on security concerns -sources
By Reuters Staff
(Reuters) – The Chinese military has banned Tesla cars from entering its complexes, citing security concerns over cameras installed on the vehicles, two people who have seen notices of the directive told Reuters.
The move is the latest sign of China’s growing scrutiny of the U.S. electric carmaker amid tensions with Washington. Analysts said it resembled Washington’s measures against Chinese telecoms firm Huawei citing national security.
Chinese military restrictions on Tesla surfaced as senior Chinese and U.S. officials held a contentious meeting in Alaska, the first such interaction since U.S. President Joe Biden took office.
“I presume the timing of the announcement surely linked to the fireworks planned for Anchorage,” said Ian Bremmer, president at Eurasia Group consulting firm.
Tesla shares ended up 0.3% after falling as much as 4.4% during trade.
The U.S. electric car maker won strong backing from Shanghai when it built its first overseas factory there in 2019. Tesla’s sleek Model 3 sedans were the best-selling electric vehicle in the country before being overtaken by a much cheaper micro EV.
The directive advises owners to park Teslas outside military property, and residents were notified this week, the two sources said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Bloomberg News earlier reported the move.
Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates, said the latest restrictions on Tesla were a close parallel to the U.S. government’s hostility toward Huawei on concerns Beijing could have access to U.S. telecoms infrastructure.
“Even if such concern is exaggerated, it can create dislocation for the companies directly affected,” he said.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that China’s government was restricting use of Tesla cars by personnel at military, state-owned enterprises in sensitive industries and key agencies. (on.wsj.com/3r2NnVe)
It was not immediately clear whether the measure applied to all such facilities. The move came after a government security review of Tesla’s vehicles, the report said, citing people familiar with the effort.
Tesla sold 147,445 cars in China last year, or 30% of its total deliveries, though competition is growing from domestic rivals such as Nio Inc and Geely.
China’s State Council Information Office and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment. China’s defence ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
CARS AND CAMERAS
Automakers have been equipping more vehicles with cameras and sensors that capture images of a car’s surroundings. Control of how those images are used and where they are sent and stored is a fast-emerging challenge for the industry and regulators around the world.
Tesla cars have several external cameras to assist drivers with parking, changing lanes and other features. Chief Executive Elon Musk has often spoken about the value of the data Tesla vehicles capture that can be used to develop autonomous driving.
Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y also have cameras in the rear view mirror for driver safety that are disabled by default.
“China has an array of tools – some direct, some indirect – for putting the heavy on foreign companies like Tesla. The pressure can come from any direction, for any reason at any time,” said Michael Dunne, chief executive of consultancy ZoZo Go.
A Chinese state regulator said in February that government officials had met representatives from Tesla over consumer reports of battery fires, unexpected acceleration and failures in over-the-air software updates.
Musk is scheduled to speak online on Saturday at a state-hosted annual global economic gathering in Beijing called the China Development Forum. The event includes Chinese officials.