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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi Friday that the U.S. will stand up for human rights and democratic values, and "hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system."

The big picture: Blinken's phone call with Yang comes just days after President Biden said the U.S. would confront Beijing over its "economic abuses," "coercive actions" and "attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance."

  • Biden argued that the keys to confronting China would be getting our own house in order, working with allies, strengthening multilateralism and "reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost," Axios' Dave Lawler wrote.

What he's saying: "In my call with my counterpart in Beijing, Yang Jiechi, I made clear the U.S. will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system," Blinken tweeted Friday night.

  • In a readout of the call, the State Department also said, "Blinken stressed the United States will continue to stand up for human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and pressed China to join the international community in condemning the military coup in Burma [Myanmar]."
  • The readout added that Blinken "reaffirmed that the United States will work together with its allies and partners in defense of our shared values and interests to hold the PRC accountable for its efforts to threaten stability in the Indo-Pacific, including across the Taiwan Strait, and its undermining of the rules-based international system."

The other side: “China-US relations are now standing at a key moment and the Chinese government has taken a stable and consistent policy toward the United States,” Yang told Blinken, per the South China Morning Post.

  • Yang also said Taiwan is “the most important and sensitive” issue to China, and that Washington shouldn't interfere with Beijing's affairs in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, SCMP reported.

Go deeper: Biden sets his sights on China

Go deeper

Scoop: White House convening NSC to talk Iran

President Biden speaks at the State Department on Thursday. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a sign of the urgency President Biden feels about Iran, the White House is convening a National Security Council principals committee meeting Friday focused on the country's nuclear program, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is still refining its strategy about how to resurrect the 2015 deal that President Trump backed out of in 2018, but it wants to work with allies to slow Iran's effort to enrich uranium and prevent an arms races in the Middle East.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Feb 5, 2021 - Economy & Business

China looks to take its digital currency global

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China appears to have taken another major step in its quest to move the world away from the dollar and position itself as a major power in the world's financial markets.

What happened: China's central bank has set up a partnership with SWIFT, the global system for cross-border payments, through its digital currency research institute and clearing center.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.