China's foreign ministry accused US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of being smearing the country after America's top diplomat gave a landmark policy speech calling for action to counterbalance Beijing's influence.
In the most comprehensive statement on China by US President Joe Biden'sBiden's administration, Blinken said on Thursday that the Asian power posed the most serious long-term challenge to international order. China has faced a lot of warnings from the US and Western allies over its growing influence and global ambitions.
On Thursday, Blinken warned of China's intent to reshape the international order and called on countries to defend the status quo.
The efforts are aimed at uniting like-minded nations as China dominates new fields, such as artificial intelligence.
He said that there was growing convergence about the need to approach relations with Beijing with more realism, because of the growing consensus that other nations can't change the trajectory of China, and that under President Xi Jinping it has become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad.
The speech by the US secretary of state contrasted with the approach under former president Donald Trump, whose administration spoke in stark terms of an all-out global conflict with China.
On trips to Africa and Latin America, where China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure, Blinken downplayed US-China competition and has not asked nations to take sides.
We are not looking for a new Cold War or a conflict. He said in his speech that we're determined to avoid both.
We don't want to block China as a major power, nor to stop China or any other country from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people. But he said that defending the current global order, including international law and agreements, would make it possible for all countries - including the United States and China - to coexist and cooperate on Monday, as well as offering the most explicit pledge in decades that the United States would defend Taiwan from any invasion by Beijing.
The pledge angered Beijing, which warned Washington not to underestimate China's resolve and capabilities.
On Thursday, Biden said Washington was not deviating from its longstanding stance on Taiwan, and said it was Beijing that had raised tensions, including with near-daily military flights close to the island.
The policy hasn't changed but the growing coercion of Beijing is what has changed, according to Blinken.
Australia and New Zealand have sounded alarm this week over leaked documents that appeared to show a plan to build broad security cooperation between China and the Pacific Islands.
China, which insists that its cooperation with Pacific Island countries does not target any country, has sent its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to a trip across the region this week to talk about the expansion of Beijing's security and economic engagement.