U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart Saturday that China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is complicating U.S.-Chinese relations at a time when they are already beset by rifts and enmity over numerous other issues. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blamed the U.S. for the downturn in relations and said American policy has been derailed by what he called a misperception of China as a threat.
“Many people believe that the United States is suffering from a China-phobia,” the Chinese foreign minister said, according to a Chinese statement. “If such threat-expansion is allowed to grow, U.S. policy toward China will be a dead end with no way out.”
The top U.S. diplomat—now in Bangkok where he is expected to talk about the situation in Myanmar—said he conveyed “the deep concerns of the United States regarding Beijing’s increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity toward Taiwan.”
Blinken also noted he addressed U.S. concerns over Beijing’s use of the strategic South China Sea, the repression of freedom in Hong Kong, forced labor, the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Tibet, and the genocide in Xinjiang.
Additionally, the U.S. secretary of state said that he and Wang discussed ways in which there could be more cooperation between the two countries in areas such as climate crisis, food security, global health and counternarcotics.
For his part, Wang said China and the United States need to work together to ensure that their relationship will continue to move forward along the right track.
“This is part of an ongoing, and I think important, series of conversations with our Chinese counterparts across the government to make sure that we are responsibly managing the relationship,” a senior State Department official said Thursday, adding that the relationship has “different aspects to it, from profound competition being at the heart [but also] elements of cooperation, and there are elements of contestation.”
Blinken’s meeting with the Chinese foreign minister is their first in-person since the chief U.S. diplomat unveiled the Biden administration’s strategy to outcompete the rival superpower. In his remarks at the time, Blinken said the U.S. was not seeking to decouple from China and the relationship between the world’s two largest economies was not a zero-sum game.
On Friday, the G-20 talks were dominated by discussion of the war in Ukraine and its impact on energy and food supplies.
Indonesia, as the meeting’s host country, called on ministers to “find a way forward” in discussing the war and its impact on rising food and energy prices.
“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner rather than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not at the battlefield,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the opening of the meeting, invoking the U.N. charter to urge multilateralism and trust.
Foreign ministers shared concerns about getting grain shipments out of Ukraine and avoiding devastating food shortages in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. But talks were marked by sharp tension: Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sat at the same table but did not speak directly.