By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, July 26 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman highlighted the need for her country and China to work together in dealing with regional and global issues, such as nuclear-armed North Korea, during her visit to China, the State Department said Monday.
In her discussion with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials, the deputy secretary also expressed U.S. concerns over human rights conditions in China.
Sherman's two-day visit to China largely focused on the growing rivalry between the two countries.
"The Deputy Secretary raised concerns in private -- as we have in public -- about a range of PRC actions that run counter to our values and interests and those of our allies and partners, and that undermine the international rules-based order," department spokesman Ned Price said of her visit that ended Monday (China time).
PRC stands for the People's Republic of China, China's official name.
"At the same time, the Deputy Secretary affirmed the importance of cooperation in areas of global interest, such as the climate crisis, counternarcotics, nonproliferation, and regional concerns including DPRK, Iran, Afghanistan, and Burma," Price said in a press release, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The department spokesman had noted that North Korea will certainly be on the agenda of Sherman's trip to China amid U.S. efforts to bring Pyongyang back to the dialogue table.
"The DPRK is one of those areas where there is at least some alignment of interests, and so we think that there is room for, at the very least, discussion with the PRC when it comes to the challenge posed by the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its other threatening activity," Price said earlier.
North Korea has stayed away from denuclearization negotiations since early 2019, and remains unresponsive to a series of U.S. overtures for engagement made since the Joe Biden administration took office in January.
Sherman's trip to China followed her visits to South Korea and Japan where she renewed U.S. outreach to the reclusive North.
"We are looking forward to a reliable, predictable, constructive way forward with the DPRK. We have offered to sit in dialogue with the North Koreans, and we are waiting to hear from them," she said Friday after meeting with her South Korean counterpart, Choi Jong-kun, in Seoul.
Sherman also expressed U.S. concerns about human rights conditions in China.
She cited Beijing's "anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong, crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and others, according to the State Department.
The call, however, also comes amid reports that China currently holds more than 1,000 North Korean refugees in custody and may soon send them back to North Korea where they will likely face severe punishment.
China refuses to recognize North Korean defectors as refugees, only calling them illegal economic immigrants.
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