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U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen at the Department of the Treasury in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2021.

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/Reuters

China on Tuesday denounced an appeal by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for a U.S.-European “unified front” against Chinese “unfair economic practices” and human rights abuses.

“China strongly deplores and rejects Treasury Secretary Yellen’s remarks,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian.

Yellen issued the appeal Tuesday during a meeting with European Union officials in Brussels. President Joe Biden is trying to revive traditional alliances following the “America First” policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump.

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“Together, we need to counter threats to the principles of openness, fair competition, transparency and accountability,” Yellen said, according to a text released by her department.

“These challenges include China’s unfair economic practices, malign behaviour and human rights abuses,” Yellen said. “The more we confront these threats with a unified front, the more successful we will be.”

Zhao rejected the criticism, saying Beijing “always firmly supported” the multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization.

The ruling Communist Party denies accusations that it steals or pressures U.S., European and other foreign companies to hand over technology and shields its fledgling technology and other industries from competition in violation of its WTO commitments.

European governments also are frustrated that their companies are barred from acquiring most assets in China while Chinese companies, sometimes financed by state banks, have spent billions of dollars to acquire foreign technology and brands.

Beijing also rejects accusations of abuses against predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in China’s northwest. The Biden administration renewed genocide allegations Monday against China in an annual State Department report to Congress.

“The U.S. is obsessed with playing up and churning out Xinjiang-related lies,” Zhao said. He added that “the U.S. is in no position to judge the human rights situation in other countries” and should “make more effort in solving its own human rights problems.”

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Washington and the European Union have imposed travel and financial sanctions on Chinese officials blamed for human rights abuses.

“We do not bully and impose sanctions at every turn, nor do we exercise long-arm jurisdiction against other countries’ enterprises,” Zhao said, referring to U.S. sanctions.

Biden has said he wants better relations with Beijing but has yet to say whether he will roll back tariff hikes on Chinese goods and other sanctions imposed by Trump in a fight with Beijing over its technology ambitions and trade surplus.

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