The United States believes China is becoming "more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad," and a recent balloon incident is just the latest example of the Asian power trying to reshape the current rules-based international order, a senior diplomat said Wednesday.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a think tank event in Washington that harder work will be needed in a number of areas in the years to come, such as artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, in order to push back against Chinese ambitions.

"We do not seek another Cold War, but we do ask everyone to play by the same set of rules so that all countries and all people can make their own choices," Sherman said at the Brookings Institution.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. (Kyodo)

Touching on issues ranging from the suspected Chinese spy balloon in U.S. airspace in early February to China's "unlawful acts" in the South and East China seas and alleged human rights violations, Sherman said regarding Taiwan that Washington's policy has not changed, but "what has changed is Beijing's growing coercion."

"So we will keep assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability," she said, while noting that the United States remains committed to its longtime "one-China policy," recognizing Beijing as the "sole legal government of China."

Should there be conflict in the Taiwan Strait, she said, "It's not just a matter of security for Asia, it's a matter of economic security for the entire world."

Stressing that Russia's war on Ukraine has demonstrated this reality, she said the United States wants to urge all countries to speak up against any potential military action against Taiwan. They should tell China that such a move also "affects my people and my country" and is "not a good idea," regardless of Chinese President Xi Jinping's strong resolve to annex Taiwan for the mainland, she said.

The State Department's second-highest ranking official also warned China not to use any visits by U.S. legislators to Taiwan -- which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day -- as a pretext for military action.

She expressed concern over China, North Korea and some other countries forging closer ties with Moscow, but added, "What I would say to all of those who are supporting Russia, you are going to end up with an albatross around your neck."

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