BEIJING: China on Wednesday (Mar 17) said it "lodged solemn representations" with the United States and Japan over a statement by top officials from both countries that raised concerns about Beijing's behaviour in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
The joint statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts called China's behaviour inconsistent with the international order.
However, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said topics such as Hong Kong and Xinjiang would not be off the table when top US and Chinese officials meet in Alaska later this week in what will be the first such high-level talks since US President Joe Biden took office.
"We have never said that during the dialogue we can’t mention Hong Kong and Xinjiang issues. We will state our position to the US side," Zhao told a regular daily briefing, although he said such pressure from the US side ahead of talks is not acceptable.
"Accepting the US invitation demonstrates our goodwill and sincerity," he said.
Still, Zhao blasted the joint US-Japan statement, which reiterated the two countries' opposition to China’s “unlawful” maritime claims in South China Sea.
"The US-Japan joint statement is a malicious attack on China's foreign policy and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, in an attempt to harm China's interest," he said.
He also called Japan "a strategic vassal" of the United States and asserted China's "indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and the adjacent waters".