NBC News called it a “public spat” while France 24 said “tensions flared” as Chinese officials rebuked Biden administration officials on camera in a high-level meeting between the two world powers Thursday on U.S. soil.
Chinese’s most senior diplomat, Yang Jiechi, lectured Secretary of State Tony Blinken and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on human rights at the meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.
“The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” Yang said.
On Friday, President Biden was asked to assess the performance of his top foreign policy officials.
“I’m very proud of the secretary of state,” he said, the New York Post reported.
The Chinese officials rebuffed U.S. criticism, the Post said, over the communist regime’s crackdown on Hong Kong activists and its persecution of the Uyghur minority. The Trump administration officially determined Beijing is carrying out genocide against the Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim people group.
Yang insisted “China has Chinese-style democracy.”
“It is not just up to the U.S., but also the world to evaluate how the U.S. has done in advancing its own democracy,” he said.
Yang said the Black Lives Matter movement highlights systemic racism in the United States.
“China has made steady progress in human rights,” he said. “And the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the U.S. itself.”
He said the U.S. “has also said that countries can’t rely on force in today’s world to resolve the challenges we face.”
“And it is a failure to use various means to topple the so-called ‘authoritarian’ states,” said Yang. “And the challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently.”
Blinken, in response, said the United States isn’t perfect and still is working toward being “more united as a country.”
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday the Biden administration believes the “theatrics” at the summit were meant for domestic Chinese audiences.
She said more productive talks may happen behind closed doors.
“We will still have business to conduct. We will use the remaining hours to privately outline for the PRC officials the same messages we have consistently delivered in public,” Jean-Pierre said.
So far, Biden has maintained many of former President Trump’s policies toward China. He has not relaxed tariffs on Chinese goods or eased sanctions against officials.
CNBC noted other contentious moments during the summit.
Wang Yi, China’s state councilor and foreign minister, said Beijing “certainly in the past has not and in the future will not accept the unwarranted accusations from the U.S. side.”
“In the past several years, China’s legitimate rights and interests have come under outright suppression, plunging the China-U.S. relationship into a period of unprecedented difficulty,” he said.
Wang said the U.S. should “fully abandon the hegemony practice of willfully interfering in China’s internal affairs. This has been a longstanding issue and it should be changed. It is time for it to change.”
Yang, the top diplomat, said Washington and Beijing must “abandon the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game approach.”
“If the United States wants to deal properly with the Chinese side, then let’s follow the necessary protocols and do things the right way,” he said.
“We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world,” said Yang.
“Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the government of the United States in China.”
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