On Friday Jun 11th, China and the United States clashed again in rare talks. At the same time, President Joe Biden made his international debut at the Group of Seven (G7) summit. The summit is being held at Carbis Bay in England and is attended by industrial democracies. Other nations attending the summit are Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and Germany.
This is Biden’s first presidential trip abroad. Therefore, the President is using it to unveil a massive plan. The outline of the plan is that the US will buy and distribute 500 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken accompanied President Biden at the summit. His mission meanwhile, is to renew US pressure on China over one main subject, and that is the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 3.7 million people across the world have died from COVID-19.
Previous US-China meeting ended badly
Blinken’s last meeting with Senior Chinese Official Yang Jiechi, took place in Anchorage, Alaska in March this year. Unfortunately, the talks ended in a heated in-person encounter.
A follow up telephone meeting took place between both parties yesterday. Blinken called Yang from Carbis Bay. Their discussion was on the same subjects Washington previously raised. They covered the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s hold on Taiwan and human rights.
Origins of the virus
Back in Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price issued a statement on the Blinken-Yang tele-meeting. Price said Blinken “stressed the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus”. This includes arranging a second visit into China for the WHO experts.
President Biden has ordered US intelligence to submit a report on the origins of the virus. The report must be submitted to the President by late August. It must conclude whether COVID-19, first detected in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, emerged from an animal source or a laboratory accident.
Lab leak theory
Former US president Donald Trump started the lab-leak theory. However, many people dismissed the theory. Many believe Trump wanted to pursue this theory to deflect criticism over his own handling of the pandemic at home. Biden has criticized Beijing for not giving more access to a WHO probe. Therefore, there is a need for further study.
China expressed outrage over the lab-leak theory. The country sought to rebrand itself in the world’s eyes as a model on how to contain the virus, not as the country that failed to stop the virus.
A senior Politburo member, Yang Jiechi has long taken a lead in Beijing’s stand on US-China matters. While President Biden met with leaders from other G7 nations at the summit, Yang renewed denunciations of Washington.
According to state television Yang told Blinken “Genuine multilateralism is not pseudo-multilateralism based on the interests of small circles.“
Yang said “The only genuine multilateralism is that founded on the principles of the charter of the United Nations and international law.”
Accusations of US hypocrisy on human rights were also renewed by Yang. This was a result of Blinken pressing on the US accusations of genocide of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic people. People from this lineage live in camps.
Yang said “The United States should resolve its own domestic serious human rights violations, and not use the so-called human rights issues as an excuse to arbitrarily interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”
During a live telecast of the meeting in Anchorage, similar accusations about the United States were made by Yang. The accusations left US officials stunned. They expected brief, civil remarks from Yang. Yang’s to-the-point statements have raised his star power inside China.
Also, Blinken noted China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, in particular, the Chinese military flights off the island’s coast.
The State Department statement said Blinken is calling on Beijing to cease its pressure campaign against Taiwan. Instead, the US wants China to peacefully resolve cross-Strait issues.
Taiwan is a self-governing democracy. However, China considers the island as part of its territory. The possibility that China will attempt to use force on Taiwan to claim it back, is causing increasing alarm for Washington. The US is also afraid China will curb freedom in Taiwan. This would be similar to to present situation in Hong Kong.
12th June 2021 23:00
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