Biden China Tracker

In Anchorage, Yang Spoke for the Party Leadership
In Anchorage, Yang Spoke for the Party Leadership
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U.S.-China Alaska Meeting

3

Acrimony in Anchorage

March 22, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Yang's temper tantrum has been interpreted by some commentators as being all about Chinese domestic politics. But it would be a mistake to see Yang's performance as mere bluster designed for home consumption. In Anchorage, he was speaking for the top leadership of the Communist Party.’

Many commentators say that Yang Jiechi harsh statements to the U.S. team was an angry and spontaneous reaction to Mr. Blinken's comments about China's misdeeds or that it was just an intentional display meant to play well at home in China.

Richard McGregor of the Lowy Institute, drawing on decades of watching the China Communist Party and author of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (which I cannot recommend more highly even though it was written in 2011)has a different take:

  • ‘In Anchorage, he was speaking for the top leadership of the Communist Party.’
  • Here are more of his thoughts from the Nikkei Asian Review:

‘No diplomat who ever dealt with Yang Jiechi, China's top foreign policy official, would have been surprised by his opening screed at his first face-to-face meeting with his U.S. counterparts in Anchorage.’

  • ‘With the cameras rolling, Yang lectured the U.S. side at length about their democracy's shortcomings and China's strength.’
  • ‘ "The U.S. does not represent the world," he said, waving his finger across the table.’

‘Yang's tirade seemed to be a calculated display of disrespect for his two U.S. counterparts.’

  • ‘Yang's point, of course, is that the U.S. has shown disrespect for the Communist Party and the political system it presides over. He was returning the favor in spades.’

‘In that respect, the meeting was immensely valuable, as it drove home the stark divide between the world's two superpowers, with all the profound implications that holds for the rest of the world.’

  • ‘The two countries don't just hold incompatible views on Asia and the Indo-Pacific.’
  • ‘As Yang made clear, they are far apart on what should be the rules of the road for the entire world.’

‘China is increasingly confident it is gaining America's measure across the spectrum of competition, be it economic, military, technology and regional supremacy, and Yang's speech and the country's diplomacy more broadly reflects that.’

  • ‘The intensity of Yang's ire, at the very least was clarifying in setting the terms of the bilateral relationship at the start of the Biden administration.’

‘Yang's temper tantrum has been interpreted by some commentators as being all about Chinese domestic politics.’

  • ‘Yang certainly judged his target audience, astutely, with his fury about a "condescending" U.S. instantly going viral on local social media.’

‘But it would be a mistake to see Yang's performance as mere bluster designed for home consumption.’

  • ‘Yang has been a member of the Politburo since 2017.’
  • ‘In Anchorage, he was speaking for the top leadership of the Communist Party.’

Couple this with the Chinese reaction to EU sanctions, covered in the posts below, and you see that China is in full 'Wolf Warrior' mode - and pretty satisfied with that.

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'Biden’s China strategy: Coalition-driven competition or Cold War-style confrontation?'

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