Uyghurs and Hong Kong Must Hold ‘Tough’ US-China Negotiations | Hong Kong protests news

US officials predict that many “points of disagreement” will be raised at diplomatic meetings next week.

Before the United States plans “difficult” talks with Chinese diplomats next week, the White House said Thursday that US officials will address the “genocide” of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin meet their Chinese counterparts on March 18 and 19 after their first overseas trip to Japan and South Korea.

“Tackling the genocide against Uyghur Muslims is something that will be a topic of discussion with the Chinese directly next week,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

UN experts and rights groups say China detained more than one million Uyghurs and other minorities there, actions the United States has judged genocide. Beijing has denied the abuses, saying the region’s facilities are for vocational training to counter the threat of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the United States condemned China moves to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, calling it a continued assault on democracy in the territory and scheduling “tough” talks with China’s top diplomats next week.

“The changes approved by the National People’s Congress today March 11 are a direct attack on Hong Kong’s autonomy, its freedoms and democratic processes, limiting political participation, reducing democratic representation and stifling political debate.” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press briefing. .

The Chinese parliament on Thursday approved a draft decision to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, further reducing democratic representation in the city’s institutions and introducing a mechanism to verify politicians’ loyalty to Beijing.

Price said the United States would be outspoken in telling China how their actions challenged American values ​​when Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with senior Chinese officials on March 18 in Alaska, the first high-level face-to-face contact. level between the two countries in combat under the Biden. administration.

“There will be some tough conversations that I expected,” he said. “We certainly won’t pull any punches discussing our areas of disagreement,” Price said, urging Beijing to play its part in improving the shabby relationship.

“We are waiting for Beijing … to demonstrate this seriousness of its objectives, to demonstrate that it seeks to live up to its own often declared desire to change the tone of the bilateral relationship.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has pledged to revisit elements of US policy toward China, as the world’s two largest economies navigate relations that have plunged to their lowest level in decades. decades under President Donald Trump.

Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, made their first phone call as leaders last month and appeared to disagree on most of the issues, even as Xi warned the showdown would be a “disaster” for both. country.

Price mentioned a long list of “difficult issues” with Beijing that he said would be addressed in the talks, including Hong Kong, China’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, his stance on Taiwan and the South China Sea. He added that Washington would explore areas of cooperation with China where it is in the best interests of the United States, including climate change.

“The point is, we are not trying to engage in talks for the sake of talks,” he said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that China and the United States have common interests and many areas of cooperation, and Beijing hopes that the relationship can develop in a healthy way on the basis of respecting each other’s fundamental interests. , win-win cooperation and non-interference in internal affairs. .

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