US, China diplomatic talks confrontational, as accusations fly

US official raised concerns about 'crimes against humanity' against Uyghur Muslims

A top Chinese diplomat accused the United States of creating an "imaginary enemy" during another tense meeting between representatives from Beijing and the Biden administration.

Bilateral talks in Alaska in March were similarly confrontational. 

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng during talks with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the relationship between China and the U.S. is "in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties." Sherman, according the U.S. Department of State, raised concerns about "anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong; the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; abuses in Tibet; and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press."

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In a readout release Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China stated that "some Americans portray China as an ‘imagined enemy.’" 

The official said it seems that a "whole-of-government and whole-of-society campaign is being waged to bring China down."

"The U.S. keeps making an issue with China. It's as if the U.S. side has nothing to talk about except about China," the Chinese official said. "We urge the United States to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy."

In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sit together in Tianjin, China, Monday, July 26, 2021. (U.S. Department of State via AP)

In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sit together in Tianjin, China, Monday, July 26, 2021. (U.S. Department of State via AP) (U.S. Department of State via AP)

Sherman traveled to Tianjin for "frank and open" face-to-face meetings with Chinese officials, saying the U.S. welcomes "stiff competition" but "does not seek conflict" with China. 

The deputy secretary of state "raised concerns in private — as we have in public —about a range of PRC actions that run counter to our values and interests and those of our allies and partners, and that undermine the international rules-based order," the State Department said in a statement.

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"It is important for the United States and China to discuss areas where we disagree so that we understand one another's position, and so that we are clear about where each side is coming from," a senior administration official told Reuters. 

"Reaching agreement or specific outcomes was not the purpose of today's conversations," a senior U.S. official said.

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U.S.-China ties have been torn for years, and the Biden administration has yet to signal whether it’s ready or willing to back away from the hard-line stances taken under former President Trump.

Trump had taken pride in forging what he saw as a strong relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But the relationship disintegrated after the coronavirus pandemic spread from the Wuhan province across the globe and unleashed a public health and economic disaster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.