Two American and two Chinese officials who, on Thursday, were supposed to make brief remarks to kick off two days of anticipated high-level talks between the two countries ended up with angry words that almost marred the event.

The officials have readied for photo-ups in Anchorage, Alaska, when top diplomat Yang Jiechi took time to address US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan for nearly 30 minutes, rejecting U.S. concerns over issues like Hong Kong and cyberattacks as well as mocking America over its democracy and human rights record.

As the press was set to leave the room, Blinken told them to stay, responding, about the United States and its allies and partners’ “deep concern” about Chinese actions and defending the U.S. as a nation that confronts its “challenges openly, publicly, transparently.”

The statement of the US officials prompted another round from Yang, even as press exited the room. As reporters returned, a visibly annoyed Yang accused the U.S. side of breaking protocol with its remarks and added, “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.”

Responding, Sullivan said- “I do hope this conversation would be one carried out with confidence on both sides, so it’s not lectures or long-winding statements. It’s the opportunity for us to explain where we’re coming from, to hear where you’re coming from.”

In addition, a senior U.S. administration official blasted the Chinese delegation as “intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance,” and accused Yang of breaking protocol.

 

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