US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Tuesday for Pacific Rim nations to be free to choose their own partners, a veiled criticism of China on the eve of a presidential summit.
Blinken, addressing ministers from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in San Francisco, quoted a 2020 statement of the group that called for an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.”
“The United States believes in that vision — a region where economies are free to choose their own path and their own partners, where problems are dealt with openly, where rules are reached transparently and applied fairly, where goods, ideas and people flow lawfully and freely,” he said.
The United States has accused China of using economic pressure and growing assertiveness at sea to press countries that have disputes with Beijing.
China in turn has criticized the US role in Asia, particularly its military alliances, arguing that Beijing historically has been the dominant player.
Despite an array of tensions, US President Joe Biden will meet Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit.
Both countries have voiced hope, in different ways, of bringing more stability to the fraught relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
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