BEIJING – Top US and Chinese diplomats appear to have had a sharp exchange of words, with Beijing saying it had called on the United States to stop interfering in its internal affairs and accused Washington of doing so. politicized to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yang Jiechi, senior Chinese foreign policy adviser, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called for widespread divisions in a number of disputed areas, including the curtailment of freedoms in Hong Kong and the massive detention of Muslims. in the northwest. Xinjiang region in China.
Calls for a more thorough investigation into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 are particularly sensitive to the Chinese regime due to suggestions that it might have escaped from a virus laboratory in central Wuhan city , where cases were first discovered.
Yang said China was “seriously concerned” about what he called “absurd” stories that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan laboratory.
The State Department said Blinken “emphasizes the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus, including the need for [World Health Organization] Phase 2 expert studies in China. “
The United States and others have accused the Chinese government of not providing the raw data and access to websites, which would allow a more thorough investigation into where the virus originated and how it initially spread.
Equally controversial were the issues of Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and accusations that China arbitrarily detained two Canadian citizens in retaliation for the arrest of Canada by a chief executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei, who is wanted by U.S. law enforcement.
The United States has fabricated various lies about Xinjiang in an attempt to sabotage the stability and unity in Xinjiang, which is right and wrong confused and extremely absurd. “China is strongly opposed to such actions,” Yang said.
“Hong Kong’s affairs are purely China’s domestic affairs,” and those found in violation of a comprehensive national security law imposed on the former British colony should be punished, “Yang said.
Blinken, on the other hand, underlined US concern about the weakening of democratic norms in Hong Kong and the continuing “genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uighurs and members of other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang,” the department said. of foreign affairs said.
He also urged Beijing to ease pressure on Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that claims China as its own territory and says it would be annexed by force if necessary.
The tone of the phone call in Alaska in March seems to reflect talks, when the parties traded sharp and extraordinary public barbs on many different views of each other and the world in their first face-to-face meeting since President Joe Biden took office .
Relations between them have weakened to the lowest level in decades, and the Biden government shows no sign of deviating from the established US line against China over trade, technology, human rights and China’s claim to the South China Sea.
China’s ceremonial legislature on Thursday passed a law to retaliate against sanctions imposed on Chinese politicians and organizations, threatening to deny access to Chinese assets to anyone formulating or applying such measures and possibly putting new pressure on foreign companies operating in the country. .