Secretary of State Blinken told Beijing to stop undermining “the rules-based international system.”
Blinken took a hardline against human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.
Blinken’s Beijing counterpart said: “Let’s each manage our own business.”
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday used his first phone call with his Beijing counterpart to push for an end to China’s “abuses” of the international system.
“In my call with my counterpart in Beijing, Yang Jiechi, I made clear the U.S. will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system,” Blinken wrote on his official Twitter account.
Yang in turn asked for “no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation,” according to CGTN, a state-affiliated news source in China. Yang said: “Let’s each manage our own business.”
In a Thursday speech, President Joe Biden called China “our most serious competitor.”
Read more: Biden’s China policy is about to be just as assertive as Trump’s, but much more effective
He said: “We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.”
Biden said the US would work with Beijing in areas where the country’s interests were aligned.
In late January, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned about the consequences of a “new cold war” between the two countries.
Blinken on Friday pressed China on human rights abuses, including those in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, according to the official readout of the call from spokesperson Ned Price. Blinken also called on China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar.
Blinken called for China to end “its undermining of the rules-based international system,” according to Price.
US-China relations under President Donald Trump had been mostly acrimonious. The day after Biden took office in January, China announced sanctions against members of Trump’s administration, including Mike Pompeo, Blinken’s predecessor.
Pompeo was banned from entering mainland China, along with its Macau and Hong Kong administrative districts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” it said in a statement.
Speaking on Fox Business on February 4, Pompeo said those sanctions were a clear warning to the new administration. If Biden’s administration sticks up for US business interests, it’ll clash with China, Pompeo said.
Pompeo said: “And so they were trying to send a message to the current secretary of state, the national security adviser, saying ‘careful, don’t do the right thing for America, don’t protect Americans, if you do you will personally be punished.'”
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