China on Monday lambasted the United States for portraying it as an "imagined enemy," calling on the administration of President Joe Biden to change what the Asian country claims is its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policies, the Foreign Ministry said.
During talks between Chinese officials and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Tianjin, Beijing also urged Washington to rectify its "wrong" policies against the nation, including revoking the visa restrictions on members of the ruling Communist Party.
As the bilateral rivalry has increased, the latest Sino-U.S. gathering provided few signs that their tensions will ease soon, observers say, with the No. 2 diplomat under Biden raising worries about a range of Chinese actions that run counter to U.S. interests.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng was quoted by the state-run Xinhua News Agency as telling Sherman in their meeting, "China wants to work with the United States to seek common ground while shelving the differences."
Washington needs to cooperate with the government of President Xi Jinping on the basis of mutual respect as well as embrace fair competition and peaceful coexistence, Xie added.
Nevertheless, Xie told Sherman that by demonizing China, the United States could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame China for its own structural problems.
The U.S. State Department said later in the day that Sherman also had "a frank and open" discussion with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about many issues in China, demonstrating "the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our two countries."
She underscored that the United States "does not seek conflict with the PRC," the department said, using the formal name of the People's Republic of China, founded by the late Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1949.
Sherman's trip to China, one of the stops in her tour of Asia, came as Washington has signaled its eagerness for a possible first bilateral summit meeting since Biden took office in January.
But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the issue was not discussed during the talks in China, although she emphasized that Biden "believes in" face-to-face diplomacy and the United States expects "there will be some opportunity to engage at some point."
Sherman voiced concerns about Beijing posing security challenges to Taiwan, the situations in the East and South China seas, and allegations of human rights abuses, the department said.
Sherman visited Tianjin for two days from Sunday, making it the highest-level trip by a U.S. official to China in months.
In the city near Beijing, the Communist-led government asked the United States not to interfere in what it calls "internal affairs," such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said.
Since the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, Biden's predecessor, began in 2017, Washington has taken a hardline approach to China and imposed sanctions on the nation in an apparent bid to curb its rise in the economic, security and technology fields.
Beijing has insisted that the Biden administration has refused visa applications by some Chinese students, suppressed the country's companies and harassed its diplomatic and consular missions in the United States.
China requested the United States to address those cases as soon as possible and earnestly respect and protect the legitimate interests of Chinese citizens and institutions in the nation, according to Xinhua.
The U.S. side, meanwhile, called Monday for cooperation with China in tackling matters related to climate change and nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, it added.
As for the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Sherman expressed dismay toward China for rejecting the World Health Organization's proposal for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus, the department said.
Near a hotel where Xie and Sherman appear to have met, tight security was in place, with police cars patrolling. Sherman moved around in isolated circumstances, as China has been taking strict measures to prevent infections with the virus.
Beijing has been at odds with Washington over several other issues like its alleged unfair business practices, especially regarding intellectual property violation, and its crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
The first high-level in-person contact between the two countries under Biden's presidency took place in March in Alaska.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Wang attended the gathering.
At the time, they engaged in rare sparring in front of TV cameras over their differing visions for the international order and their respective positions on human rights and democracy issues, among other topics.
In April, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry traveled to Shanghai for discussions with his counterpart on climate change, becoming the first senior official under the Biden administration to visit China.