WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, will meet next week with two senior Chinese government officials, the Biden administration’s first in-person diplomatic encounter with its chief foreign rival.
In a statement on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman said that Mr. Blinken and Mr. Sullivan would meet in Anchorage next Thursday with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and its top diplomat, Yang Jiechi.
The meetings will follow visits next week by Mr. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to Japan and South Korea, two core U.S. allies that have fraught relations with China and that would expect to be consulted before an engagement like the one planned with Beijing.
“It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials be held on American soil, and occur after we have met and consulted closely with partners and allies in both Asia and Europe,” said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.
a speech by Mr. Blinken, as well as a new White House national security strategy document, identified China as the top nation-state threat to the United States.
In his speech, Mr. Blinken said managing the relationship with China would be “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century” and called China the one country able “to seriously challenge the stable and open international system.”
Mr. Biden spoke to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, last month, warning him that he intended to challenge China’s “coercive and unfair economic practices” as well as its record on human rights and its crackdown on Hong Kong, according to a White House summary of the call. But Mr. Biden also said he hoped to cooperate with Mr. Xi on matters like the coronavirus, nuclear proliferation and climate change.
U.S. officials did not describe a specific agenda for the Anchorage meeting. Mr. Blinken said on Twitter that he looked forward to engaging the Chinese officials “on a range of issues, including those where we have deep disagreements.”
Mr. Blinken will stop in Alaska on the return leg of his Asia trip, his first foray out of Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic. Until now Mr. Blinken, to his frustration, has been conducting diplomacy exclusively by telephone and video. Mr. Blinken has been vaccinated, but officials have cited the risks for others accompanying him as a reason for his limited travel to date.