US and China hold ‘serious discussions’

US diplomats have had “serious discussions” with counterparts from China in Alaska and will not let “theatrics” from the Chinese side distract from laying out their principles and having tough conversations, the US State Department says.

“We know that sometimes these diplomatic presentations can be exaggerated, or maybe even aimed at a domestic audience,” State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told a news briefing.

“But we’re not letting the theatrics from the other side stop us from doing what we’re intending to do in Alaska, which is lay out our principles, as well as our expectations, and have these tough conversations early that we need to have with the PRC,” she said referring to China.

She said the talks on Thursday “were serious discussions”.

Senior US and Chinese officials are set to conclude their talks in Alaska on Friday after contentious opening exchanges laid bare the depth of tensions between the world’s two largest economies at the outset of US President Joe Biden’s administration.

Porter also reiterated US calls for China to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from “arbitrary and unacceptable” detention.

She expressed deep US concern about China’s decision to hold a closed court hearing for Spavor and plans to start Kovrig’s trial on Monday.

The two men have been charged by China with spying.

Spavor and Kovrig were arrested in December 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies, on a US warrant.

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