Mar 10, 2021 - World

Cyber, human rights expected to top U.S.-China summit

A screenshot shows a tweet sent by Secretary of State Tony Blinken about an upcoming meeting with China officials.

Via Twitter

U.S. officials announced Wednesday they'll hold their first high-level, in-person summit next week with China — and cyberattacks, human rights and Chinese actions in Taiwan and Hong Kong are likely on the agenda.

Why it matters: China's leaders may see the current moment as a window of opportunity to persuade a new administration the United States has much to gain from supporting Beijing's global goals and much to lose if the U.S. tries to thwart them.

  • Relations between the world's two nuclear-armed superpowers are at their lowest point in decades.
  • The Biden administration has said it views China as a major strategic rival, and the National Security Council has made the Indo-Pacific region its top focus.

On the table: In Anchorage, Alaska, next week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan are likely to bring up recent cyber intrusions attributed to Chinese-backed actors, China's recent aggression toward Taiwan and the genocide that China is perpetrating against its Muslim minorities.

  • State Councilor Wang Yi and Director Yang Jiechi are likely going to demand that the U.S. cease interfering in what they perceive as issues of Chinese territorial sovereignty.
  • They are also likely to object to what they perceive as attempts at regional containment, such as the planned Quad summit involving officials from the U.S., Japan, Australia and India.
  • Both the Biden administration and Chinese officials hope the U.S.-China relationship can accommodate some degree of cooperation, so potential areas of partnership — such as on climate change and pandemic preparedness — also may come up.

My thought bubble: Yang and Wang undoubtedly hope to win a detente.

  • Biden has so far upheld most of the Trump era's tough China measures in a sort of holding pattern, as the administration conducts a comprehensive review of America's China policy.
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