Senior U.S. and Chinese officials had a frosty exchange Monday over numerous issues ranging from Beijing's human rights abuses to COVID-19 and cybersecurity.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who's in China for two days, sat down with Wang Yi, who doubles as China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister.
According to the U.S. State Department, Sherman expressed Washington's concerns over Beijing's series of actions that undermine the international rules-based order.
She specifically expressed concerns over China's anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong and its crimes against humanity in Xinjiang Province.
She also conveyed Washington's concerns over the origin of COVID-19, pointing out how Beijing has refused to fully cooperate with the WHO.
The White House explained it's important to discuss such hard topics.
"We think it's important for us to say directly to the Chinese officials in private what we say in public. It's in our interest to be very clear to Beijing about where we stand and explain our concerns in detail. And our philosophy is that we should not avoid hard topics."
Sherman, however, highlighted the need for cooperation on other areas of global interest, including North Korea and climate change.
Earlier Monday, she sat down with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, during which the Chinese diplomat accused the U.S. of treating Beijing as a (quote) "imagined enemy."
"Currently, the China-U.S. relationship is in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties, fundamentally because some Americans portray China as an 'imagined enemy'. Those in the U.S. hope that by demonizing China, they could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic, and social issues and blame China for its own profound structural problems to serve its domestic political ends."
With the visit by Sherman, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since President Biden's inauguration six months ago, ending in sharp criticism from both sides, it's left to be seen how the relationship unfolds going forward, including a possible summit between Presidents Biden and Xi.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.