U.S., China top officials exchange barbed remarks ahead of meeting in Alaska
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Saturday spoke by telephone with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, drawing Beijing’s attention to the situation in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet and Hong Kong during the first talks between the top diplomats of the two powers after President Joe Biden took office.
“I made it clear that the United States will defend our national interests, uphold our democratic values and hold Beijing accountable for violations (rules) of the international system,” Blinken said on Twitter..
During the conversation, the Secretary of State emphasized that the United States “will continue to uphold human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong,” the State Department said in a statement from Blinken’s phone call with Jiechi..
During the conversation, Blinken also “insisted that China join the international community and condemn the military coup in Burma,” the State Department said in a statement, which used the former name of Myanmar in a press release..
A senior US diplomat said the United States will hold Beijing accountable for attempts to undermine stability in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Taiwan Strait, and for abusing the rules of the international system.
At a Senate hearing on his appointment, Blinken said he would continue the previous administration’s line on China. Blinken said he agreed with the State Department’s statement under Donald Trump, which said Beijing was committing genocide in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. More than a million Uyghurs and other ethnic groups living in the area, mostly Muslims, have been locked up in camps, according to human rights groups..
Beijing has also stepped up its crackdown in Hong Kong, arresting leading activists after the passage of the state security law, using mass protests as a pretext to take harsh action against the former British colony..
Nonetheless, Biden, speaking Thursday on foreign policy issues, noted that although the US will oppose China, “we are ready to work with Beijing if it is in America’s interests.”.
Blinken previously talked about possible cooperation on climate change, as China and the US are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world..
Beijing has long supported a military junta in Myanmar that gave way to democracy a decade ago. The United States welcomed this democratic transformation. However, the military staged a coup this week, arresting the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Chinese state media call Myanmar coup “major cabinet reshuffle”.
Biden strongly condemned the coup and threatened with sanctions against Myanmar if the military does not relinquish power.