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'US Will Directly Raise with China Issue of Genocide Against Uighur Muslims'

File photo of Chinese national flag. (Reuters)

File photo of Chinese national flag. (Reuters)

Days after the Quad summit, US Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor are scheduled to meet their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18.

The United States will directly raise with China the issue of genocide against Uighur Muslims, the Biden Administration said on Thursday. It added that a range of global issues is expected to part of the conversation of the Quad's leadership summit. "Addressing the genocide against Uighur Muslims is something that will be a topic of discussion with the Chinese directly next week but certainly this conversation (Quad summit) tomorrow… I have invited National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to come and give you a readout of that meeting. "I know there's a lot of interest in the Quad summit tomorrow, but we expect the conversation to be about a range of global issues," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.

The Quad summit, she reiterated, is not focused on China. "Of course, China is a topic on the minds of many leaders and countries, but we expect they will talk about the climate crisis, about economic cooperation, about addressing COVID, a range of issues and discussions and you know certainly the position of the United States is that what is happening is genocide and we will look for opportunities to work with other partners on putting additional pressure on the Chinese, but we also raise it directly, and it will be a topic of discussion next week," she said.

Days after the Quad summit, US Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor are scheduled to meet their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18. "This meeting next week, we felt it was important to have it on US soil, we certainly anticipate that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Tony Blinken will be discussing both the challenges we've had, and not holding back on issues and concerns we have with the behaviour of Chinese leadership, whether it's on Taiwan or recent, you know, efforts to push back democracy in Hong Kong or on concerns we have about the economic relationship," Psaki said in response to another question.

"So they will certainly raise those issues and the lack of transparency as it relates to COVID, human rights abuses as well. But they'll also talk about areas of opportunity and ways we can work together. They will not be holding back in the conversation. But they wanted to, you know, it's an important moment next week to engage directly and in person. I know they're looking forward to it. We'll have a robust readout, I'm sure, when that meeting concludes," Psaki said. At a separate news conference, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the US will engage China from a position of strength. "There will be some difficult conversations, I would expect. We will certainly not pull any punches in discussing our areas of disagreement," he said.

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"But as Secretary (of State Tony) Blinken has said, our relationship with Beijing is a multifaceted one. It is fundamentally competitive. It is adversarial, in some ways. And there also are potential areas for collaboration. And so I suspect all of those elements will come up during these discussions on March 18," he said. The United States, he said, expects Beijing to demonstrate seriousness regarding its own often stated desire to change the tone of the bilateral relationship.

"This will be a difficult conversation. We'll be frank and explain how Beijing's actions and behaviour challenge the security, the prosperity, the values of not only the United States, but also our partners and allies," he said. "Now, on the flip side of that coin, we also will explore avenues that, for cooperation, that are in our interest. When Secretary Blinken first spoke with Director Young, when Secretary–when President Biden first spoke with President Xi, they made very clear that there will be areas for collaboration, or at least there will be the potential for areas of collaboration. But there has to be one common denominator, when it is in our national interests," he said.

"Of course, climate change, I think, is one of those that we can tangibly point to is undeniably in our own national interests for the world's largest and the world's second largest emitters to be able to work productively and constructively together when it comes to climate change. But the point remains that we're not looking to engage in talks for the sake of talks, Price said. The US is looking for Beijing to demonstrate that seriousness of purpose, to demonstrate that it seeks to live up to its own oft stated desire to change the tone of the bilateral relationship.

The relationship between US and China, he said is multifaceted. "It is primarily and fundamentally a relationship that is predicated on competition. Our goal, when it comes to our relationship with Beijing, our approach to Beijing is to compete and ultimately to out compete with Beijing, in the areas that are competitive. We have talked about them, the economic realms, the security realms are primarily competitive," he said. "There are, of course, areas in this relationship that are adversarial. And there are areas for potential collaboration. So I wouldn't want to attach one label to it, because it truly is multifaceted. We are going to discuss those more difficult areas with the Chinese," he said.

He said there was every expectation that when it comes to more difficult issues — Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, pressure on Taiwan, broader human rights abuses, the South China Sea, the Mekong, economic pressure arbitrary detentions, the origins of COVID-19 — they would come up.

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