China condemns US 'small circle' diplomacy, Blinken presses Covid-19 origins in rare call

BEIJING (AFP) – A top Chinese diplomat on Friday (June 11) condemned Washington’s “small circle” diplomacy, state media reported, in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as G-7 leaders met for their first in-person summit in nearly two years.

Mr Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party’s chief diplomat, told Mr Blinken that “genuine multilateralism is not pseudo-multilateralism based on the interests of small circles”.

“The only genuine multilateralism is that founded on the principles of the charter of the United Nations and international law,” Mr Yang told Mr Blinken, in their first one-on-one talks since acrimonious China-US discussions in Anchorage in March.

The call came as the leaders of the G-7 group – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan – met on Friday in Cornwall, England, with the challenge posed by China top of the agenda.

The US administration of Joe Biden has maintained a firm line against China, and hopes to rally allies to counter Beijing on trade, technology and human rights – particularly in the restive region of Xinjiang, where Washington has accused China of genocide.

Yang on Friday hit back against those claims, urging the United States to “resolve its own grave human rights violations and not use so-called human rights issues as a pretext to arbitrarily interfere in the internal affairs of other countries”.

In the same call, Mr Blinken urged China to show more transparency on the origins of Covid-19 and ease pressure on Taiwan.

Mr Blinken, speaking by phone from England, “stressed the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus” including allowing World Health Organisation experts back to China.

“He also called on Beijing to cease its pressure campaign against Taiwan and peacefully resolve cross-Strait issues,” a State Department statement said.

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