The top diplomats of China and the US met Friday in New York, the first high-level contact between Beijing and Washington after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last month, triggering unprecedented tensions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Wang said China-US relations “are facing the gravest challenge” and at a “critical juncture,” urging Washington to “learn lessons from it.”
The Chinese diplomat said it was “necessary” to create a favorable atmosphere for the resumption of normal exchanges between Beijing and Washington and push relations back to a healthy and stable development track.
“It is urgent for both sides to establish a right way for the two major countries to get along with each other in a responsible attitude towards the world, history, and the peoples from two countries, to promote the stability of the relationship between the two countries,” he said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.
Presenting China’s position while focusing on the “wrongful actions” of the US on Taiwan, Wang said the self-ruled island nation “is the core of China’s core interests.”
“The US has made a solemn commitment to China on the Taiwan question,” he said, referring to three joint China-US statements.
“However, the actions of the US run counter to this. They attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, engage in the so-called ‘contain China with Taiwan,’ sending a very wrong and dangerous signal,” said Wang.
Urging Washington to return to its agreements with Beijing, including the One-China principle, Wang told Blinken that China “opposes all kinds of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities.”
“The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair, and the US has no right to interfere. China’s position on resolving the Taiwan question is consistent and clear,” he said, adding Beijing will continue to adhere to the basic policy of “peaceful reunification and one country, two systems.”
Warning of “strong measures” against all “Taiwan independence” attempts, Wang stressed that China and the US have common interests and profound differences, which will not change.
“From the first day of contact, the two sides knew that they were dealing with countries with different systems. This did not prevent the two sides from cooperating based on common interests, nor should it be a reason for the confrontation between China and the US,” he added.
The Chinese foreign minister told his American counterpart that Beijing hopes Washington “will correct its perception of China, change its China policy with containment and suppression, and stop trying to deal with the Chinese with its position of strength, stop thinking about hindering China's development, and stop unilaterally bullying.”
China launched unprecedented military operations around Taiwan last month when Pelosi paid an unannounced trip to the self-ruled island nation, the first time in 25 years by a sitting US House speaker.
Beijing sees it as a violation of its sovereignty and held massive military activities, including firing missiles, some over the island nation, home to over 24 million people. Besides military operations, China also suspended high-level military dialogue with Pentagon and cooperation on climate change.
Taiwan has maintained its independence since 1949 while Beijing has pursued a policy of reunifying the island with the mainland, including by force if necessary.
Following their meeting, the US State Department said Wang and Blinken "discussed the need to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the U.S.-PRC relationship, especially during times of tension." Price was referring to China by its formal acronym.
Blinken "emphasized that the United States is committed to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our longstanding one China policy," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
"He underscored that the United States remains open to cooperating with the PRC where our interests intersect," added Price.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this story from Washington