US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told senior Beijing official Yang Jiechi in a phone call, that Washington would stand up for human rights and democratic values in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Mr Blinken said the US would continue to work with allies to call out any Chinese efforts to destabilise peace in the Indo-Pacific region, including potential flashpoints such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.
The White House official said Washington would challenge any Chinese attempts to undermine the global system.
He said: “I made it clear the US will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system.”
Mr Blinken also pressed China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar.
The coup has sparked international outrage, with the US considering sanctions against the generals and the UN Security Council calling for the release of all detainees.
It has also deepened tensions between the United States and China, which has close links to Myanmar’s military.
In response to Mr Blinken’s comments, Mr Yang said the US should “correct” its recent mistakes and said both sides must respect each other’s political systems and development paths.
He said: “No one can stop the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Relations between the world’s two biggest economies sunk to their lowest point in decades during Donald Trump’s Presidency and Chinese officials have expressed cautious optimism things would improve under Mr Biden’s administration.
Mr Yang said he hoped relations between the two countries could return to a predictable and constructive track but called on the US to “stop interfering” on issues of Chinese sovereignty, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.
Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said “the common interests of the two countries outweighed their differences” and urged Washington to “meet China halfway” to improve relations.
But US officials said they were willing to take a patient approach towards China policy and promised to discuss how to tackle the challenges posed by China with allies.
Mr Biden said: “We’re ready to work with Beijing, when it’s in America’s interest to do so.”
The ultra-nationalist state-run Global Times tabloid said in an editorial today that it expected the Biden administration to keep talking tough while improving cooperation in some areas.
It said: “This is obviously different from the later period of Trump’s administration, which had only hyped up antagonism between China and the US.”