US and China clash publicly as first major talks for Biden administration kick off

Tony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said his country, under Mr Biden, would push back against China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness abroad.

He said: “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”

Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, said China was pursuing an “assault on basic values.”

He added: “We do not seek conflict but we welcome stiff competition.”

In a 15-minute speech Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomat, accused the US officials of “condescension” and said America was “inciting some countries to attack China.”

He said: “We hope that the United States will do better on human rights. In the United States human rights [problems] are deep-seated, they did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter.

“Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”

He said the US was responsible for a “period of unprecedented difficulty” between the two countries and that “there is no way to strangle China.”

He added: “China is firmly opposed to US interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response.”

Mr Blinken responded: “I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”