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Sunday, 16 May 2021

Blinken warns China against 'coercion and aggression'

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Blinken warns China against 'coercion and aggression'
Blinken warns China against 'coercion and aggression'

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China on Tuesday against using "coercion and aggression" as he sought to use his first trip abroad to shore up Asian alliances in the face of growing assertiveness by Beijing.

Lauren Anthony reports.

A warning to China from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday (March 16) - as he cautioned it against using "coercion and aggression".

Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Japan's capital Tokyo for their first trip overseas as top members of President Joe Biden's cabinet - in a bid to strengthen ties between the two powers, and solidify Asian alliances in the face of growing assertiveness by Beijing.

China's extensive territorial claims in the East and South China Seas have become a priority issue in an increasingly strained Sino-U.S. relationship - and are an important security concern for Japan.

"We're united in the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, where countries follow the rules, cooperate whenever they can, and resolve their differences peacefully.

And in particular we will push back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way." China's foreign ministry spokesman responded Tuesday, saying that cooperation between Japan and the U.S. should not harm the interests of others in the region.

Blinken also reaffirmed Washington's commitment to human rights, raising concerns about autonomy in Hong Kong, democracy in Taiwan, and abusing human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet.

North Korea was also in sharp focus, after the White House said Pyongyang had rebuffed its efforts at dialog.

"One key element of this is the denuclearization of North Korea.

We will continue to work on that as friends and partners." Leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, issued a warning to the Biden administration that, quote, "If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step." The Japan meeting follows a virtual summit last week between leaders of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India - known as the Quad alliance.

Blinken and Austin will also visit South Korea this week, before flying back to the U.S. for their first in-person talks with China in Alaska to discuss their frayed ties.

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