Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who met with colleagues from China and Russia on Friday, said the United States would “strongly push back” against violations of international rules, even though he acknowledged violations of his own country under the Trump administration.
Mr Blinken’s colleagues, Foreign Ministers Wang Yi of China and Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia, withdrew their own diplomatic blow to the United States, accusing them of hypocrisy and defining international rules in terms created to establish Western world domination.
The exchanges followed a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, convened by China and held practically via videoconference, on multilateral cooperation against pandemics, global warming and other common threats.
It was in a way a rematch between Mr. Blinken and Mr. Wang, who was part of a top Chinese delegation that sharply lectured to the United States at a meeting in Alaska two months ago. This unwritten confrontation was heroically considered in China, where the government encouraged growing anti-Americanism and nationalism.
Although the terms and tone used at Friday’s meeting were more diplomatic, the differences were pronounced in the worldviews supported by Mr Blinken and his colleagues. These differences suggested that the stalemate among the great powers of the Security Council would not soon disappear.
The session took place the same week that Mr Blinken, meeting with Group 7 foreign ministers in Britain, stressed what he described as the importance of “defending democratic values and open societies” – a signal of the Biden administration’s intention to challenge China and Russia over with human rights, misinformation, and other issues that President Donald J. Trump’s administration has inactivated or ignored.
In another clear signal from the Biden administration, Mr Blinken also visited Ukraine, where he pledged support in its fight against Russian-backed rebels, who have claimed 13,000 lives since 2014.
Mr Blinken said in his Security Council remark that the United Nations had remained a critical force for good in the world, responsible since its inception at the end of World War II for the most peaceful and prosperous times in modern history, but was now under serious threat.
“Nationalism is reborn, repression is growing, rivalry between countries is deepening – and attacks on a rule-based order are intensifying,” Mr Blinken said. “Some are wondering whether multilateral cooperation is still possible. The United States believes this is not only possible, but also imperative. “
Mr Blinken said the United States would work with any country on global threats posed by coronavirus and climate change, “including those with which we have serious differences.”
At the same time, he said, in a clear warning to China and Russia, that the United States will “push hard when we see countries undermining the international order, pretending that the rules we all agreed do not exist, or simply breaking them at will.” “
He made no new views, but wanted to make it clear that the Biden administration was committed to reversing Mr. Trump’s foreign policy legacy, which often belittled the United Nations and led the United States, which critics called a destructive, one-sided path.
“I know that some of our actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based order and led others to question whether we are still committed to it,” Mr Blinken said. “Instead of taking our word for it, we ask the world to judge our commitment by our actions.”
He enumerated that the Biden administration has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, halted Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization and is seeking to join the UN Human Rights Council.
“We are also taking steps, with great humility, to address injustices and injustices in our own democracy,” he said. “We do it openly and transparently, so that people around the world can see it. Even when it’s ugly. Even when it hurts. “
Mr Wang, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council in May-May, sought to portray China as a responsible global citizen who abides by international law. Without mentioning the United States by name, he resented the countries he said defined international rules as “the patent or privilege of a few.”
He also stated that “no country should expect other countries to lose,” reflecting China’s accusation that the United States wants to curb China’s rise – an accusation that Mr. Blinken and others have denied.
Mr. Lavrov was more direct in his criticism of the United States and its allies, describing Mr. Blinken’s “rule-based order” as a cover for Western efforts to suppress other countries.
He was particularly critical of the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Russia and others with whom they disagree, which Mr Lavrov said were created to “throw opponents out of the game”.