One of China's top diplomats has taken a confrontational tone during a meeting with U.S. counterparts.
China's vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng accused the U.S. of creating an "imaginary enemy" to divert the people's attention from its domestic problems.
The meeting was described by the U.S. State Department as a "frank and open" encounter. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman along with other U.S. officials attended the meeting held in the northern city of Tianjin.
Officials did not provide any specifics on what was discussed. White House representatives said a possible meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping was not part of the agenda during the four-hour meeting.
White House representative, Jen Psaki, said the topic did not come up during the meeting but she expects the talks to happen at some point.
"The president continues to believe in face-to-face diplomacy. That is something he has long been an advocate for. And we expect there will be some opportunity to engage at some point but it did not come up in the context of these meetings, and that was not the purpose of these meetings," Psaki said.
According to sources at the talks, the China delegation was confrontational and direct. Feng immediately seized the opportunity to reiterate previous statements made by senior China officials during similar talks in Alaska in March.
Sources said Feng accused the U.S. of attempting to "reignite a sense of national purpose" by painting China as its enemy. He said the suppression of China's development will not resolve the U.S.'s domestic and external problems.
Biden administration officials said Sherman and her team fired back and laid out concerns over China's actions on issues such as Xinjiang, Taiwan, Hong Kong and recent cyberattacks. Sherman also accused China of being uncooperative in the World Health Organization's planned second investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
"It is important for the United States and China to discuss areas where we disagree so that we understand one another's position, and so that we are clear about where each side is coming from," administration officials said.