The United States and the European Union on Thursday expressed their "strong concern" over China's growing assertiveness in the South and East China seas and toward Taiwan, saying that Beijing's moves directly affect their security.
They stated their position in a joint statement issued after a second high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU dialogue on China, reflecting what a U.S. State Department official called "increasingly convergent" U.S. and EU outlooks on Beijing.
During the dialogue in Washington, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino discussed "the growing list" of China's actions that are of concern, such as allegations of human rights abuse targeting the Muslim Uyghur minority in the far-western Xinjiang region and the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong.
They also expressed "strong concern over China's problematic and unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait that undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and European Union," according to the statement.
In recent years, Beijing has become more assertive regarding its claim to the Senkaku Islands, a group of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea that China calls Diaoyu. It has also been pushing its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Another source of international concern has been Taiwan, as China steps up its military and diplomatic pressure on the self-ruled democratic island. Beijing views Taipei as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
Sherman and Sannino reaffirmed the need for promoting freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law, while also agreeing to diversify and strengthen supply chains apparently in a bid to reduce economic reliance on China, according to the statement.
At the same time, the two officials recognized the importance of diplomacy with China in areas where cooperation is possible, touching on the issues of North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and climate change.
The United States and the EU agreed to hold the next high-level meeting in mid-2022. The first was held in May in Brussels.
The U.S. State Department official, who previewed the dialogue on Wednesday, said the latest statement would be "robust," covering topics far broader and more detailed than the joint document released following the first meeting.