Here is today’s foreign policy mandate: US and Chinese officials Meet for the first high-level face-to-face discussion on the Biden Presidency. Polls on the election outcome suggest a win for Mark Rutte’s VVD in the Netherlands and North Korea closes US diplomacy attempts.
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The USA and China hold their first personal talks
The US and Chinese diplomatic heavyweights meet today in Anchorage, Alaska, for the first face-to-face meetings between the two countries since US President Joe Biden took office. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has just completed a four-day trip to Asia, is accompanied by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who engages in talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and high-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi for around nine hours.
Biden’s government downplayed the likelihood of a rapid improvement in relations as a result of the meeting, and anticipated it by imposing a new series of sanctions on Wednesday against two dozen Chinese officials believed to have contributed to the partial Undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy. Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, said Beijing is not expecting breakthroughs either, saying, “We do not have very high hopes.”
“The talks are more of a complaint than an exchange of views,” writes James Palmer of Foreign Policy in the latest China Brief.
If today’s talks are unlikely to reset relations in a post-Trump era, it is because the Biden administration is not particularly interested in it. In an analysis prior to today’s meeting, Senior Foreign Policy Correspondent Michael Hirsh recorded the evolution of the government’s thinking about China since President Clinton’s tenure. “Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have belatedly realized that … China will not change, at least not quickly or easily.”
Xi-Biden soon? The frosty tone that will be set ahead of today’s meeting does not mean that all prospects for cooperation are off the table. Climate change remains a key agenda item for both Xi Jinping and Joe Biden as both countries seek to cut emissions – and win the technological race for greener energy. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese officials will propose a follow-up meeting between Xi and Biden on April 22nd, Earth Day, if today’s talks go well.
Xie Zhenhua, China’s recently appointed guru on climate change, and John Kerry, Biden’s climate commissioner, worked hand in hand on the 2015 Paris Agreement, and as Melinda Liu writes, climate negotiations could be “a safer channel for bilateral communication, echoing the friendlier tone of the past Years. “
The new “enemy”. While the United States is committed to the long term, Americans are more suspicious of China than ever. A new Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans view China as the country’s “greatest enemy,” a 23 percent jump from last year, while the poll found that only 20 percent viewed China positively. Time will tell if the feeling is fleeting; 20 percent of Americans named Iran their greatest enemy in 2020, only to have that animus drop to 9 percent in 2021.
What we are following today
Rutte wins in the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on the way for re-election as polls predict that his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has improved its 2017 result by two seats, while the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) is expected to lose three will seats. The pro-European D-66 party, a junior partner in Rutte’s previous coalition, appears to have won the highest number of seats in its history and is in a strong second place behind the VVD.
Tanzania’s political future. Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan is slated to become the country’s first female leader after the death of President John Magufuli.
Hassan made the surprise announcement on Tuesday, saying Magufuli had died of heart failure. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu claimed last week the president had signed COVID-19 and received treatment in Kenya and India. Magufuli, who made headlines last year for dismissing the coronavirus pandemic, had just won a second term of five years in last October’s elections. If Hassan takes over the presidency, she would be the first Zanzibari to hold that position.
North Korea rejects the US Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice secretary of state, has dismissed the attempt at US communications as a “time-delaying trick” and pledged to ignore US requests until the Biden administration changes its approach. “What has been heard from the US since the emergence of the new regime is just a crazy theory of the ‘threat from North Korea’ and unfounded rhetoric about ‘total denuclearization’,” she said.
Canada’s “Two Michaels”. China will soon begin trials of the two Canadians arrested in overt retribution for the 2018 Vancouver detention of Huawei Executive Director Meng Wanzhou. Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau insisted that there is no legitimate case against Michael Spavor or Michael Kovrig and that they are the victims of arbitrary detention. According to the Canadian government, Spavor’s trial is scheduled for Friday, while Kovrig’s trial is on Monday. Stephen M. Walt wrote in Foreign Policy in February examining the logic of “hostage diplomacy” and why states use individuals as “diplomatic peasants”.
The future of the HDP. A high-ranking Turkish public prosecutor has filed a case with the Turkish Constitutional Court demanding the dissolution of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which is currently the third largest group in the Turkish parliament. “The closure process initiated against our party is a severe blow to democracy and justice,” the HDP said in a statement, adding that it would continue its “determined fight for democratic politics”. The move comes when a prominent HDP MP, Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, was excluded from the body calling for peace with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), a group, via a 2016 social media post he retweeted. which is viewed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States.
Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior has reminded residents of the risk of changing their names to benefit from a free sushi promotion. For a limited time, Akindo Sushiro, a popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant, is offering a free sushi meal to anyone whose name includes the Chinese characters for salmon (guiyu, 鮭 魚), resulting in a flurry of name change requests to household registries .
The Taipei Times spoke to a student who had changed her name to “Kuo Salmon Rice Bowl” that day and planned to change it again the next day. The restaurant stated that at least 1,000 people took part in the campaign.
The Taiwanese authorities have warned bargain hunters of the dangers of the strategy and reminded them on Facebook that you can only legally change your name three times before you get stuck with the final change.
That’s it for today.
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Credit: Kevin Frayer / Getty Images