“Whether judged by population scale or the trend of the world, the Western world does not represent the global public opinion,” China’s top diplomat told the US.
Rabat – Diplomats of the US and China met for the first time since the inauguration of a new administration in Washington, but little appears to have changed.
The first official meeting between the world’s two most preeminent superpowers on Friday, March 19 devolved into a back-and-forth of accusations.
The meeting was arranged after a friendly exchange between US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping ahead of the Chinese New Year on February 10.
At the time Chinese media described the phone call as an indication that both nations would step up cooperation and communication in a move away from the combative stance taken by both superpowers during the presidency of Donald Trump.
On March 19, Chinese diplomats clearly expected a similar approach to dialogue. “We are having this dialogue today to follow up on the common understanding of the two presidents reached during their phone conversation,” stated Yang Jiechi, Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs.
Yet over the past weeks, Biden had come under scrutiny from Republicans and media outlets that alleged he was “soft on China.” In response, Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly stated the US intended to speak to China “from a position of strength.”
To emphasize this approach, the US slapped a variety of sanctions on China on the eve of their first diplomatic meeting in the Biden-era.
As talks kicked off on Friday, US Secretary Blinken expressed “deep concerns” with China’s policies on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, which China sees as internal and sovereign issues.
The confrontational approach taken by the US did not go over well with the Chinese.
Top diplomat Yang launched into a 16-minute speech emphasizing China’s achievements in eradicating poverty and highlighting issues with US foreign policy and internal issues such as persistent racism and recent questions over the strength of its democracy.
Both the US and China claimed to represent global opinion. “Whether judged by population scale or the trend of the world, the Western world does not represent the global public opinion,” Yang said. The US retorted by stating its allies agreed with its leadership and opposed China.
The contentious meeting appears to highlight an apparent shift in global hegemony following a year dominated by COVID-19, with China feeling more like an equal to the US than ever before.