UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will participate in a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday chaired by China's foreign minister on strengthening global cooperation and the key role of the United Nations in harnessing international action to tackle the world's conflicts and crises, China's U.N. ambassador said Monday.
It will be the first encounter, though virtually, for Blinken and China's top diplomat Wang Yi.
China's U.N. envoy Zhang Jun told a news conference that Friday's meeting is "the first priority" of China's Security Council presidency this month, and will be attended not only by Blinken but "quite a number" of other foreign ministers from the 15 nations on the U.N.'s most powerful body.
Last week, President Joe Biden stressed to Congress the critical importance of the United States keeping up with China, which his administration sees as a strategic challenger, and proving that American democracy can still work and maintain primacy in the world.
Friday's council session also comes in the wake of a contentious meeting in Alaska on March 18 between Blinken and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi, who took aim at each other's country's sharply differed policies. It was the first face-to-face U.S.-China meeting of the Biden administration.
Blinken said the administration is united with its allies in pushing back against China's increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad including its actions in Hong Kong and against Taiwan, the Uighur minority in Xinjiang and in the South China Sea. Yang responded angrily, demanding that the U.S. stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when America has been roiled by domestic discontent and accusing Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing Beijing on human rights and other issues.
China's Zhang said Monday: "It's becoming more and more evident that in tackling the current global crises, multilateralism represents the right way out."
He recalled the declaration adopted last September by world leaders commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations which says that following the COVID-19 pandemic: "Multilateralism is not an option but a necessity as we build back better for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world. The United Nations must be at the center of our efforts."
At Friday's meeting, he said, "We do hope ... members will have the opportunity to reaffirm their support to multilateralism, to practice real multilateralism, and then to give stronger support to the role of the United Nations and to defend the international system with the United Nations sitting at the center, and also to support international order based on international law."