China on Wednesday accused the United States and Japan of colluding to interfere in its internal affairs after the two countries joined forces to warn of “destabilising behaviour” by Beijing in the region.
Beijing’s response comes just a day before China’s top diplomats are set to meet top US officials in Alaska in their first face-to-face talks since President Joe Biden’s administration came to power.
But temperatures are rising ahead of the Alaska meet which will pit US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan against senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
On Tuesday, US and Japanese foreign and defence ministers warned against “coercion and destabilising behaviour” by China in a joint statement after high level talks in Tokyo.
The comments from a nascent alliance that aims to hem in China’s regional aspirations drew a swift rebuke.
“The US-Japan joint statement maliciously attacks China’s foreign policy… and is an attempt to harm China’s interests,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday.
He added that the two countries had “no right to unilaterally define international relations” or impose their own standards.
“This is just another clear example of the US and Japan working in collusion to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” said Zhao.
After their first stop in Japan, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and top diplomat Blinken arrived in Seoul on Wednesday as the Biden administration focuses on rallying alliances with its key Asian partners to counter a rising China.
US relations with China have plunged in recent years, and the upcoming Alaska talks will be the first between the powers since Yang met Blinken’s hawkish predecessor Mike Pompeo last June in Hawaii.
The Biden administration has generally backed the tougher approach to China initiated by former president Donald Trump. But it has insisted it can be more effective by shoring up alliances and seeking narrow ways to cooperate on priorities such as climate change.
China says it is ready for a reset with Washngton following the turmoil of the Trump years, butM has warned the US and its allies to stay out of issues it perceives to be domestic concerns from Hong Kong to the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
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