BEIJING - Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call Wednesday that Washington should respect its position on Taiwan and stop interfering in Beijing's internal affairs.
The talks came as Blinken is planning to travel to Beijing as early as this weekend for meetings with senior Chinese officials at a time when bilateral relations remain soured.
Qin explained China's "solemn position" on Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island Beijing regards as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland by force if necessary, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Noting that China-U.S. relations have encountered new difficulties and challenges since the beginning of this year, Qin said it is clear who is responsible, in a veiled criticism of Washington.
The Chinese minister said the United States should also stop undermining China's sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition.
According to the U.S. State Department, Blinken discussed with Qin the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to "responsibly manage the U.S.-PRC relationship to avoid miscalculation and conflict," referring to China by the acronym for its official name, the People's Republic of China.
The United States continues to "use diplomatic engagements to raise areas of concern," such as Taiwan and Ukraine, "as well as areas of potential cooperation" like the economy and climate change, the department said.
The top U.S. diplomat had initially planned to visit Beijing in early February in a bid to improve ties following an in-person meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in November in Indonesia.
But the trip was abruptly put off after Washington detected what it called a Chinese spy balloon traveling over sensitive areas of the continental United States, fueling tensions between the countries.
If Blinken's trip to China is realized, it would be the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 2018.
FROM THE ARCHIVES