By Tristan Smith

 

The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China kicked off a series of bilateral talks in Anchorage, Alaska, with the hopes of addressing a number of political, economic, and technological issues that have yet to be resolved between the two world powers.[1]  The United States delegation is led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; they will be negotiating with top Chinese diplomats Yang Jeichi and Wang Yi.[2]  The diplomatic talks did not get off to a positive start, with both sides accusing the other of “grandstanding” and political and social hypocrisy on ethnic and racial relations in both countries.[3]  However, one of the most controversial issues the United States hopes to hold China accountable for are the recent allegations of China’s conducting of a cyberattack in the form of an aggressive hacking campaign against technology giant Microsoft earlier this month.[4]  The attacks originally occurred in January of this past year, and experts believe that the initial number of victims are in the tens of thousands with that number expected to grow.[5]  Additionally, the United States government also issued an emergency warning to the general public and encouraged federal agencies to immediately “patch their systems” in order to further secure against any other attacks associated with the hacking; this was to prevent China or another foreign government from using the original hack to spread further damage to the system.[6]  The victims of the hack are estimated to include small businesses, local and state governments, and military contractors, as well as general public customers whose personal information may have been exposed.[7]

 

Although China has denied the accusations, the United States still plans to address the issue during the talks.[8]  Other technological issues that are expected to be discussed include technological competition between the two superpowers and new forms of military competition in an ever-increasingly technology-driven world.[9]  Although technology issues will be a main issue addressed, the talks will also touch on a number of topics that directly overlap with technology, specifically climate change.[10]  Both world powers are hoping to tie economic and technological development directly with efforts to address climate change, so it will be interesting to see how the issues continue to intertwine and be addressed throughout the talks.  The ongoing discussions have also taken a unique turn in light of both nation’s response to the coronavirus and the introduction of three vaccines to combat the spread of the disease.[11]

 

Over the past couple of weeks, the United States and China have continued to build on the initial talks in Anchorage concerning potential areas that the two super powers could work together on climate change. Both nations agreed to lay out long-term plans to reach the goal of net-zero emissions within each nation’s energy sectors.[12] Additionally, United States Climate Ambassador John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenua, both reiterated their respective country’s commitment to keeping global temps from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.[13]

 

[1] See Giovanni Russonello, The U.S.-China Talks: A Meeting of Friends and Foes, N.Y. Times (Mar. 19, 2021, 8:50 AM), https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/us/politics/biden-china-alaska.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage.

[2] See Nahal Toosi, China and U.S. open Alaska meeting with undiplomatic war of words, Politico (Mar. 18, 2021, 7:41 PM), https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/18/china-us-alaska-meeting-undiplomatic-477118.

[3] Id.

[4] See Kate Conger & Sheera Frenkel, Thousands of Microsoft Customers May Have Been Victims of Hack Tied to China, N.Y. Times (Mar. 6, 2021), https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/06/technology/microsoft-hack-china.html.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] See Russonello, supra note 1.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Jeremy Page & Drew Hinshaw, China Says Covid-19 Origin Probe Should Shift Focus to Other Countries, W.S.J. (Mar. 31, 2020), https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-says-covid-19-origin-probe-should-shift-focus-to-other-countries-11617186625.

[12] Zack Colman, U.S., China pledge to tackle climate change with ‘urgency’, Politico (Apr. 18, 2021), https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/18/us-china-climate-change-urgency-482861.

[13] Id.

Image Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/us/politics/biden-china-alaska.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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