U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman called on China to cooperate on addressing issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic in an interview published by The Associated Press on Monday.
Sherman spoke with the AP following high-level talks with Chinese officials who accused the U.S. of causing a “stalemate” in relations between the two superpowers. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng accused the Biden administration of stifling China’s development, an accusation that Sherman denied.
In a statement on Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of being an “investor” in “coercive diplomacy.” The ministry pointed to the plethora of U.S. sanctions levied against China, characterizing these actions as the “big bullying the small.”
Sherman said that the U.S. welcomes economic competition with China, but in a way that is fair and betters the lives of its people.
“There are some things that rise above specific differences that are the global responsibility of great powers,” she told the AP.
Sherman is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit China since Biden took office this year. She described the talks as one step in the process of working through critical issues.
“We will see whether, in fact, there’s follow up and we are able to move another step,” Sherman said. “There’s no way to know in the early stages of building this relationship whether we will get to all the places that we hoped for.”
During the talks, Sherman brought up the U.S.’s concerns regarding the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang province, the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong and China’s encroachment on Taiwan, which it claims among its territories.
“We do expect … them to understand that human rights are not just an internal matter, they are a global commitment which they have signed up for,” Sherman told the AP, citing the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights.