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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  March 22, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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>> the headlines on al jazeera this hour. high-level talks between china and the u.s. have ended in alaska with only significant breakthrough. both sides in front of the cameras. really tensions over human rights and economic power. >> we knew going in there are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds, including china's actions in shenyang, with hong kong, ttibet,
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and the actions it is taking in cyberspace. it is no surprise that when we raised those issues, we got a defensive response. >> the u.s. president said asian americans have been attacked and scapegoated. joe biden and his vice president have been visiting the state of georgia, talking to community leaders. eight people were killed in a mass shooting tuesday. six of the victims were women of asian descent. brazil's president is taking several of h country's states to court to force them to overturn lockdown restrictions. 90,000 new cases were registered on thursday. the first time the barrier has been passed. a volcano has erupted in iceland's southwest in the middle of the peninsula between the capitol and international airport. a no-fly zone has been set up in and out of the airport. the eruption had been expected.
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a u.s. judge rejected an attempt to postpone the murder trial for police officer charged with the death of george floyd. last week, minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to his family. lawyers for derek chauvin argued the highly publicized settlement jeopardized his chance of a fair trial. it has been a difficult year for most, but a report on the happiest countries suggest the pandemic hasn't crushed people's spirits. finland has topped the list for the fourth year in a row, followed by eight other european countries and new zealand. the report ranks 149 nations. we will have more news at the top of the hour right here on al jazeera. for now, it is inside story. ♪
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>> the united states and china attempt to mend ties, but talks get off to a fiery start. each accusing the other of grandstanding and hypocrisy. what can the meeting in alaska achieve? how will it affect the friends and foes of the superpowers? this is "inside story." >> hello and welcome to the program. alaska is often known as the last frontier in the u.s. the state near the arctic provided an icy backdrop to a meeting aimed at resetting frosty relations with china. hopes of a thaw quickly melted away. at the start, washington and beijing's top diplomats treated
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sharp rebukes for an hour. it highlighted differences on global security, trade, and human rights. our diplomatic editor reports from anchorage. reporter: this is a meeting that will shape the future relations between the world's two biggest powers. relations that are currently at a low point. >> good afternoon. and welcome. reporter: normally, opening remarks at events like these are brief and polite. but the u.s. side went on to list their specific concerns. >> hong kong, taiwan, cyber attacks on the u.s., economic coercion toward our allies. reporter: the chinese response was long and just as frank. the foreign minister said "you don't welcome guests with sanctions." a reference to the blacklisting of 24 chinese and hong kong officials in the hours before the meeting. his senior colleague was clearly unhappy. >> i think we thought too well
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of the united states. we thought the u.s. side would follow the necessary diplomatic protocols. reporter: he went on to complain about regime change in the middle east and the u.s.'s own human rights record. >> the challenges facing the u.s. in human rights are deep-seated. they did not emerge over the past four years. the slaughter of black people, the problem existed for a long time. >> the word slaughter was not translated into english for those in the room by the chinese delegation's interpreter. reporter: journalists were about to be ushered out when the secretary of state made it clear his delegation wanted to speak again. >> i just made my first trip, as i noted, to japan and south korea. i have to tell you, what i'm hearing is very different from what you described. i'm hearing deep satisfaction that the united states is back,
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that we are reengaged with our allies and partners, i'm also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking. >> a confident country is able to look hard at its own shortcomings and constantly seek to improve. and that is the secret sauce of america. reporter: alaska is a midway point, just over 6000 kilometers to beijing, under 6000 kilometers to washington, d.c. this was a meeting that was supposed to build bridges. >> what we have seen here could be a welcome clearing of the air, or perhaps the beginning of a deepening of the division. it depends on the crucial talks that now continue behind closed doors. james bays, al jazeera, anchorage. >> in the lead up to the meeting, china's leaders expressedoncerns to the u.s. secretary of state. antony blinken criticized china's threats to regional security and businesses to south
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korea and japan. a week earlier, the u.s., india, japan held a summit. china's growing influence in the asia-pacific region drove much of the discussion. the final communique did not mention beijing, but voiced support for the rule of law, democracy, and a region unconstrained by coercion. let's bring in our guest. from washington dc, scott snyder, senior fellow for korea studies and director of the u.s.-korea policy program at the council on foreign relations. in beijing, the beijing bureau chief for newsweek. and the founder of strategic pan indo pacific arena and former director of political and security community in the asean secretary and. scott, let me start with you. it was quite a tense confrontation at the beginning of the meeting between the u.s. and china. how unexpected was that? >> i don't know that it was
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necessarily that unexpected. the biden administration has spent a week framing its engagements in asia and towards china, with the expectation that there are areas of concentration -- confrontation, there are areas of cooperation, and there will be an adversarial component to the relationship that will persist from the trump administration, and it is somewhat different from what we saw under obama the last time that this team was engaged. >> is the fact that the beginning of these talks was so confrontational, and the fact that confrontation was actually on camera, that it was made public? does it suggest to you the discussions behind the scenes will be even more contentious? can there actually be a reset in u.s.-china relations at this point? >> i'm skeptical about the
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possibility of a total reset. there are a lot of intractable differences of opinion and disagreements on disputes. however, i think both sides were playing a game of one upmanship and gamesmanship for a while, even leading up to anchorage. as well as right before the talk. clearly, the audience for a lot of that maneuvering and a circling at the beginning was the domestic audiences back home, not necessarily each other. i would not be at all surprised if we have another session or talks. i would not be surprised if at the end of it, they came out kind of ok and maybe in the coming months, there might be some incremental signs of
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further engagement. the key thing here is to keep talking. if the whole thing breaks down, and there is no more talking, we should all take cover. >> what are the biggest hurdles that need to be cleared in trying to improve the diplomatic relationship between the u.s. and china? >> to summarize the sino-u.s. relationship, i would say both countries are actually seeking to assert over the indo pacific. the second key is both countries are also engaged in a trade and tariff war. the third component, the technology war. china is unlike what we know 20 or 40 years ago.
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china is actually getting stronger, even though one third of its semiconductor chips still have to be imported from abroad. the fourth dimension that actually affects the relationship is the struggle of issues touching on xinjiang, hong kong, perhaps even taiwan or tibet. there is a heavy component or element of human rights contention. the next issue would be taiwan and china conflict. the chinese communist party was formed in 1921. and this was the centennial. the rhetoric has increased. the language of president xi
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jinping has also changed a little bit, in the sense that he does not completely forsake the possibility of using war. lastly, you can see it is a contention between eight italic terrien and open society with the rest of japan or south korea. >> countries around the region have been airing grievances about china. how do they expect the u.s. to bring this up with china? what response do they hope will be coming from beijing? >> i think that the main point is that they are expecting the u.s. is going to stand for the values it has expounds. the way secretary blinken has
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suggested concern about greater repression internally in china and aggression externally, so there is a list of areas of cooperation, one is broader trade competition that we can see framed through the cause, in terms of pandemic policy and provision of vaccines. i think the most important thing u.s. allies are looking for is u.s. supports to stand against aggressive or unfair trade retaliation or economic retaliation by china. the most rican -- recent focal point is the china and australia relationship. my ears quirked up when he focused on that set of isss. the others related to values i think are familiar. there are areas of deep disagreement. in many cases, because china has tried to delineate them as
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internal issues, but they are definitely part of a deepening values competition between the u.s. and china more broadly. >> are countries in the region hopeful a reset in the relationship between the u.s. and china would really work in their favor? >> i think each country has to be thinking that. that is in their national interest to think that. some of the smaller countries around the periphery of china are concerned about how it is going to play out. there is a profound difference in terms of how beijing and washington each look at this relationship. china takes a very long term view. in washington, you can't really predict much more than four years ahead of time.
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that is why we've got this strange and intense disconnect now. once upon a time, there had been areas of cooperation or potential cooperation between china and america while having some very serious disagreement. what is there to per street -- persuade chinese officials that four years from now, come another presidential election, there might be a whole another trump like turn around and everything gets upset and has to start all over again? that cannot be ruled out. the political dynamic that created trump has not gone away. >> i saw you nodding along to what she was saying. >> i do want to jump in.
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i must complement melinda for saying that, because we really cannot expect what will happen in 2024, in terms of american election, presidential or congressional. but 2024 is perhaps one of the most crucial years of this decade. you don't just have a nationwide election in the u.s., aside from the u.s., you have another one in india. the election in taiwan. you also have the election in iran. in south asia, we have another election, presidential election in indonesia. the list goes on. so if the biden administration
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is concerned about defending democracy and shaping it, the indo pacific strategy as a concert of diplomacy, president joe biden and his team, it is practically the national security council, will have a lot on its plate. >> where do things stand when it comes to the relationship between the u.s. and south korea? how does it impact south korea's relationship with china? >> that component of secretary blinken's travel was very interesting. precisely because china was not mentioned in the public statements in contrast to the emphasis on china and japan. that fact illustrates the sensitivity of south korea's
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balancing act between the u.s. and china. it probably reflects some differences, in terms of preferred instruments and approach. south korea is also now sitting outside, even though it is democracy that is robust. i think it raises questions that are going to be hashed out over time. and the whole trip was really security preoccupation as thethe threat from north korea. we saw the north koreans voicing the possibility that it is going to be very difficult to renew dialogue denuclearization with north korea. that will be a potential irritant.
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it is an x factor that could upend the entire china focused strategy china has laid out. >> have spoken a lot about areas of disagreement between the u.s. and china. i want to speak on areas of common interest. i want to cite an article you wrote for foreign policy and what you said despite the agreements between china and the u.s., we can see cooperation from both countries on the issue of climate change and the relationship between john kerry, the special u.s. presidential envoy for climate, former secretary of state, and president xi jinping, could make a difference. why is that? >> these are two people who know each other very well. we have very interesting relations that go back many years. the most important between president biden and president xi jinping, who spent an extraordinary amount of time for that level of chinese and
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american officials, when each of them was the vice president of their country. a lot of one-on-one conversations. as you mentioned, each country has named a climate envoy. america has elevated the position to be the special presidential envoy for the first time. that is john kerry, the former secretary of state. in china, it is a senior chinese climate expert who had been in semiretirement. he had basically been the architect of china's negotiating stance in the run-up to the paris accords. he and his counterpart in the u.s. first had their agreement, which laid the groundwork for
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the paris accords. and he has already recalled that they have known each other for 20 years. so because climate change is a common global problem, they are sitting there in alaska, where the glaciers are melting at a record rate because of global climate change. there's a possibility for common ground. it might take a while to get to that issue. there are so many other pressing and more urgent issues to discuss, but it is one glimmer of hope in a very tense relationship. >> i want to talk about an issue that concerns the countries when it comes to the south china sea and cha's militarization of the seaway. where do things stand when it comes to that issue?
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>> first of all, when anyone wants to understand the south china sea, they should not get worked up when all of the delegations get together to have a working group session. the meeting is at the working level, even if you have it strong, the foreign minister or the president who may not like the language may dial it back. the very simple example being ideally, to see the south china sea code of conduct being concluded by 2021. and some heads of states and foreign ministers were not
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really sure whether he meant by the end of 2021, or to prevent it from going any further. so it takes a lot of diplomatic practice to the extent of what asean really does and how asean uses western terminology in international relations in a completely different way. confidence does not have very -- in trust. it is all about information sharing and trust building, and networking. >> president biden has made it clear he wants to return the u.s. to its traditional multilateralism and reconstitute the alliance of the west to present a united front to china. can that be achieved? >> that is the experiment. he is bringing the u.s.-backed
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to the status quo ante, in terms of perceptions of international leadership. but the world has changed, the u.s. has changed. on this trip, the main purpose in japan and south korea was to take the measure of how much allies have changed. and there is emergence of a new focal point with china. all of those are potential stress points for testing the viability of that foreign-policy measurement. so i think the framing is there. we will have to see how it plays out. >> melinda, it looked like he wanted to jump in. >> i didn't mean to say that, i was just nodding my agreement. >> let me ask you this. last week's virtual meeting of the leaders of the u.s., japan, australia, and india, how is
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that perceived by chinese officials? >> the propaganda in china was all the attempt to make the quad a real security group is doomed to fail. they see it as a vehicle for containing china, but a vehicle without many wheels, let's just say inception a number of years ago, it has not gotten off of the ground. the issue now is washington and the biden administration are declaring america is back. but you can't just erase what four years of quasi-isolationism , quick cited foreign policymaking, and all of that
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under the trump administration. in four years, china in its own relentless way did what it could to take advantage of the default position of the trump administration, which was we don't really care about the rest of the world, it is america first. so the allies, some very traditional, strong allies in the pacific, but when china is right there on your border, or across a small body of water, and america is quite a long ways away, you've got to be wondering if there were another trump-like figure on the horizon, where do we want to put our bigs in this basket? we saw with the eu, in terms of
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trade. in the last days of the trump administration, china and the eu had made a major trade agreement that was not in step with the game plan that america would have liked to see. >> we have run out of time. we will have to leave the conversation there. thank you to my guests. thank you for watching. you can see this and all of our previous programs again by visiting our website, aljazeera .com, and go to facebook.com/aj insidestory. and join the conversation on twitter. @ajinsidestory. bye for now.
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