US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said that China has pointed to Taiwan as a main area of disagreement between the two countries. Beijing claims the self-governing democracy, which buys weapons from Washington, and has not ruled out using force to seize it.
Blinken repeated that the United States does not support the independence of Taiwan and stood by its stance of maintaining the status quo. However, he also expressed concern about China's "provocative actions" in recent years, such as increasing military exercises near Taiwan.
"We and many others have deep concerns about some of the provocative actions that China has taken in recent years going back to 2016," Blinken said.
Blinken also spoke to China about using its influence over its ally North Korea, which has fired a volley of rockets and has rebuffed offers of talks with the Biden administration.
"All members of the international community have an interest in encouraging the DPRK to act responsibly to stop launching missiles, to start engaging on its nuclear programme," said Blinken, using the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "China's in a unique position to press Pyongyang to engage in dialogue and to end its dangerous behavior."
The talks between Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took place in Anchorage, Alaska, and were the first high-level meeting between the two countries since President Joe Biden took office. The meeting was seen as an opportunity for the two sides to discuss their differences and try to find common ground.
However, the talks were also marked by some tension, with Blinken and Wang exchanging sharp words over a range of issues, including Taiwan, human rights, and trade.
Despite the tensions, Blinken said that the two sides had a "constructive" discussion and that they agreed to continue talking.
"We had a very frank and direct conversation," Blinken said. "We discussed our differences, but we also discussed where we could find common ground."
It remains to be seen whether the two sides will be able to bridge their differences, but the meeting in Anchorage was a first step in what is likely to be a long and difficult process.