Nothing of the sort took place during Trump’s presidency.
The general consensus is that the top two Biden Administration officials — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan — were outperformed in Alaska last week by their Chinese equivalents. The first, and so far as we know the most dramatic, example of Chinese showmanship came from Jang Jiechi, Beijing’s top foreign-policy official. Talking for nearly half an hour instead of the customary two minutes, Jang lambasted the Biden Administration’s human rights policy, and went on with a systematic demolition of its foreign policy “rules.”
Nothing of the sort took place during Trump’s presidency. The Chinese adhered to the prearranged rules, including the time limits on individual contributions. Nor did Beijing’s representatives ridicule the American positions, as they did last Thursday and Friday.
One is hard-pressed to explain President Biden’s statement after the Thursday session that he was “proud” of the performance of Secretary of State Blinken when most of the coverage gave a very different picture. If you read the press coverage from the rest of the world, you will get a clear picture of Chinese hegemony, whether in the debate or in the maneuvers between the two superpowers.
To take just one example: the military press headlined the Chinese “humiliation” of the Americans, and focused at considerable length on Zang’s diatribe at the outset of the talks. And to add insult to injury, Beijing introduced a new requirement: that would-be travelers to the People’s Republic be vaccinated with a drug of Chinese manufacture.
In other words, the Chinese ran rings around the Americans, and let it be known that China, not the United States, would set the agenda of talks between the two superpowers. The historic role of Washington had thus been reversed, and the Americans would have to defend their record against Beijing’s criticisms.
The most shocking thing about the sessions was the failure of American preparation for the Chinese assault. The top two representatives from Washington sat mutely by as the Chinese humiliation dragged on. The U.S. response came a day later and was at a far lower level than Beijing’s opening critique of Biden’s foreign policy.