US says talks in Indonesia are part of effort to ‘responsibly manage competition’ between Washington and Beijing.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held talks with senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in the latest meeting aimed at addressing tensions between China and the United States.
The discussions on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia on Thursday came one day after Microsoft accused hackers linked to China of accessing the emails of US and other Western officials.
The State Department said Blinken and Wang had a “candid and constructive” exchange.
“The meeting was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open channels of communication to clarify US interests across a wide range of issues and to responsibly manage competition by reducing the risk of misperception and miscalculation,” spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Citing an unidentified US official, the AFP news agency reported that Blinken told Wang that Washington would hold hackers who target US citizens “accountable”.
Beijing has vehemently denied involvement in the hacking operation reported by Microsoft and called the US the “world’s biggest hacking empire and global cyberthief”.
The episode risks sparking further animosity between the two nations, which have been at odds over numerous issues in recent years, including trade, the status of Taiwan, China’s claims in the South China Sea and an ongoing US push against growing Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific.
Ties were further strained this year when the US shot down what it said was a Chinese spy balloon that had crossed its territory. China insisted that the aircraft was a weather balloon that drifted off course.
But leaders in Washington and Beijing have stressed that they are not seeking confrontation or a new Cold War despite the intensifying competition, and a number of top US officials have travelled to Beijing in recent weeks in a push to address those tensions.
Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Chinese capital last month, after which Xi said Beijing hoped to see the two countries overcome their differences and build “a sound and steady China-US relationship”.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said last week that she had held “productive” talks with Chinese officials during a trip to Beijing, adding that ties between the two nations are on “surer footing” as a result of the dialogue.
US climate envoy John Kerry is also set to visit China next week.
On Thursday, the State Department said Blinken used the meeting with Wang “to advance US interests and values”. It also said the top US diplomat raised concerns shared by the US and its allies regarding Chinese actions without offering further details.
“He made clear that the United States, together with our allies and partners, will advance our vision for a free, open and rules-based international order,” Miller said.