Chinese officials suggest the US should handle its own human rights problems and not meddle in China's affairs
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a tense first meeting with top Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska.
- Chinese diplomats said the US should focus on issues like Black Lives Matter instead of meddling.
- Blinken brought up China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, which Chinese diplomats rebuffed.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
China has told the US to focus on its own human rights issues — like the Black Lives Matter movement — and not meddle in the country’s internal affairs particularly concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a war of words with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and state councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska, as the two sides kicked off a tense first meeting since Biden’s inauguration.
Blinken, Wang, and Yang traded barbs over their parallel meeting tables after Blinken said that the US intended to defend a “rules-based order,” particularly regarding China’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan. Without this order, Blinken said, it would be “might makes right, winner takes all” and a “much more violent and unstable world.”
“Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said, referencing as well Chinese cyber attacks on the US and attempts at economic coercion of US allies.
“That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today,” Blinken said.
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National security adviser Jake Sullivan echoed Blinken’s statements, saying that China had started an “assault on basic values.”
“We do not seek conflict but we welcome stiff competition,” he said.
Yang responded by warning the US against meddling and “interference” in China’s internal affairs, stating that the country would not accept “unwarranted accusations,” while mocking the US’s own human rights record and domestic stability.
“We hope the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress in human rights and the fact is, there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which it has itself admitted,” Yang said.
“The challenges facing the US in human rights are deep-seated and did not just emerge over the last four years. For our two countries, it is important that we manage our respective affairs well, instead of deflecting the blame on someone else in this world.”
He added that the US should “change its own image” and “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.”
“Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States,” Yang said.
“The US does not represent the world, it only represents the government of the United States,” he added, contesting the US’s right to speak for other countries.
The contentious back-and-forth continued when Blinken insisted on responding to the Chinese officials, stating that a hallmark of US leadership at home is “a constant quest to, as we say, form a more perfect union.”
“And that quest by definition, acknowledges our imperfections, acknowledges that we’re not perfect,” Blinken said.
He then referred to an early meeting between Biden and President Xi Jinping when both were still vice presidents.
“Biden at the time said ‘it’s never a good bet to bet against America,'” Blinken told Wang and Yang. “And that remains true today.”
The two countries are meeting in Anchorage for two days, for what the US administration aims to be “a broader strategic conversation” about its concerns about China’s recent behavior and to address areas that could be of mutual interest.
Blinken has previously highlighted concerns over China’s political manoeuvres in the South and East China seas, its aggressive economic practices, and the country’s handling of human rights abuses of the ethnic minority Uighur population in Xinjiang — which the US has previously said amounts to genocide.
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