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U.S., China square off in rare diplomatic meeting in Tianjin

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (L) meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on Monday. Photo by U.S. State Department/UPI
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (L) meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on Monday. Photo by U.S. State Department/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- A meeting of senior U.S. and Chinese diplomatic officials in the Chinese city of Tianjin ended without a joint statement and drew attention to ongoing disputes over human rights and foreign policy.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tweeted Monday after meeting with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi that she addressed the U.S. commitment to "healthy competition, protecting human rights and democratic values, and strengthening the rules-based international order that benefits us all."

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But Sherman also said that the two sides were "quite direct with each other on the areas of great difference," the New York Times reported.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a read-out that the meeting stressed cooperation on climate change, counter-narcotics, North Korea and Iran.

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"The deputy secretary underscored that the United States welcomes the stiff competition between our countries, but that we do not seek conflict with the PRC," Price said, according to the Washington Post.

Tensions rose ahead of Sherman's meeting with Wang, when Sherman's Chinese counterpart Xie Feng suggested the United States was lecturing the Chinese government.

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Xie claimed that the United States "wants to reignite a sense of national purpose by establishing China as an 'imaginary enemy'," the Financial Times reported.

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Xie, who met with Sherman before Wang, told Chinese media that he had relayed Beijing's demands: lifting U.S. visa restrictions against Chinese Communist Party members, ending sanctions on designated Chinese officials and no longer requiring Chinese state media to register as foreign agents in the United States.

U.S.-China relations "are currently at a deadlock and face serious difficulties," Xie said.

Trade disputes that began during the Trump administration also remain unresolved. In 2018 the previous administration imposed trade tariffs on Chinese imports including steel and aluminum.

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China has taken measures against U.S. goods. On Monday Beijing's commerce ministry said it has extended anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into U.S. imports of polyphenylene ether, used in cars and electronics, Shenzhen Securities Times reported.

The probe has been extended to Feb. 14, according to the report.

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