Blinken meets Chinese foreign minister, raises human rights concerns
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday in Rome and raised concerns over human rights, in only their second face-to-face session as tensions between the two powers run high.
Blinken expressed opposition to actions by China “that run counter to our values and interests… including actions related to human rights, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, the East and South China Seas, and Taiwan,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken also noted areas where he said the US and China’s interests intersect and they can work together, including “the DPRK, Burma, Iran, Afghanistan, and the climate crisis.”
The meeting in Rome, where both diplomats were attending the G20 summit, is the first between Blinken and Wang since a stormy session in Alaska in March during which the Chinese delegation berated the American side as TV cameras rolled.
Tensions are high between the world’s two biggest economies on a plethora of fronts, including trade, human rights, Taiwan and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, Washington ordered China Telecom Americas to discontinue its services within 60 days — ending nearly two decades of operations in the country and piling further strain on relations between the two countries.
US President Joe Biden has pressed ahead with a hardline trade policy against Beijing broadly in line with that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose bombastic approach sent tensions soaring.
Tensions have also soared over Taiwan in recent months.
China claims the self-governing, US-allied island as its own, and vows it will retake it one day — by force if necessary.
Earlier this month, Washington confirmed that a small number of US troops are on the island to help with training.
On Tuesday, Blinken called for Taiwan to be allowed greater involvement in UN agencies, though Beijing insisted it has no place on the world’s diplomatic stage.
Biden has also rebuked Beijing over its sabre-rattling on Taiwan.
He said this month the US was ready to defend the island from a Chinese invasion — though the White House quickly walked back those comments amid warnings from Beijing, continuing a strategy of ambiguity on whether it would intervene militarily if China attacked.