U.S. tells China it does not seek conflict; but will stand up for principles, friends

Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

ANCHORAGE , March 18 (Reuters) - The Biden administration began its first high-level in-person talks with rival China on Thursday, saying that Chinese actions threaten a global order based on rules and vowing that Washington would also stand up for its friends.

"We do not seek conflict, but we welcome stiff competition, and we will always stand up for our principles, for our people, and for our friends," the U.S. national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said at the start of talks with Chinese counterparts in Alaska.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage that the U.S. side would discuss its "deep concerns" about Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion of allies.

"Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability," he said.

In lengthy response to the U.S. opening statements, Yang hit back, accusing the United States of using its military might and financial supremacy to pressure countries and of abusing national security to threaten the future of international trade.

He said Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all inseparable parts of Chinese territory and China firmly opposed U.S. interference in its internal affairs.

Yang said human rights in the United States were at a low point with Black Americans being "slaughtered" and added that the United States should handle its own affairs and China its own.

Yang said it was necessary to abandon a "Cold War mentality," and confrontation and added:

"The way we see the relationship with the United States is as President Xi Jinping has said, that is we hope to see no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the United States."

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina; Editing by Leslie Adler

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