US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the need for cooperation and transparency on the origins of COVID-19 during a call with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Friday and raised other controversial topics, including treatment by the China of Uyghur Muslims, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Yang, China’s top diplomat, expressed Beijing’s grave concern to Blinken that some people in the United States are spreading the “absurd story” of the coronavirus leaking from a laboratory in Wuhan, state media said. Chinese.
Yang, head of the Central Foreign Affairs Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China, also told Blinken that Washington should handle Taiwan-related issues “carefully and appropriately,” state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The call came ahead of a G7 summit in Britain attended by US President Joe Biden, which is expected to be dominated by Washington-led efforts to counter China’s growing influence. Read more
The world’s two largest economies disagree deeply on issues ranging from trade and technology to human rights and the coronavirus. Washington should work with Beijing to restore relations, Yang said.
Yang, who had a heated exchange with Blinken in Alaska in March during the Biden administration’s first high-level meeting with his counterparts in China, said Beijing strongly opposed what it called “Abominable actions” regarding the pandemic, which he said were being used to slander China, CCTV said.
The State Department said diplomats also discussed North Korean policy, and Blinken expressed US concerns about the deterioration of democratic standards in Hong Kong and what Washington describes as the genocide of Muslim Uyghurs. in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Read more
Blinken also called on China to stop its lobbying campaign against Taiwan and release US and Canadian citizens “wrongly detained,” he said in a statement.
‘RESPECT FACTS AND SCIENCE’
The State Department said the discussion on North Korea – an issue on which the United States wants more Chinese action to push its ally and neighbor to give up their nuclear weapons – focused on the need for Beijing and Washington “to work together for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. “
He said the two diplomats also continued their discussions on common global challenges, including Iran and Myanmar, and the climate crisis.
“Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the secretary stressed the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus, including the need for phase 2 studies led by WHO experts in China, ”he said, referring to the World Health Organization.
Bonnie Glaser, an expert on Asia at the US German Marshall Fund think tank, said that while the agenda included potential areas for cooperation, the conversation seemed dominated by contentious issues.
She said Yang’s call in Washington to work with Beijing to restore relations indicated that China still held responsibility for the problems in the relationship on the United States.
“It’s a failure, but it shows that the Chinese are sticking to their tried and true diplomatic approaches, even if they don’t succeed. “
A report on the origins of COVID-19 by a US government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis of a viral leak from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan was plausible and merited further investigation, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday. . Read more
“We urge the United States to respect the facts and the science, refrain from politicizing the issue (…) and focus on international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic,” Yang said.
His comments on Taiwan follow a visit to the island claimed by China last weekend by three US senators aboard a US military plane. They met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and announced the donation of 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Taiwan, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Chinese Defense Ministry. Read more
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