Beijing/Washington: The desire to seek hegemony or territorial expansion is 'simply not in the Chinese DNA', Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng told his American counterpart Wendy Sherman on Monday.

Xie made the remarks while meeting with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin to discuss ways to set terms for the 'responsible management' of the strained ties between Beijing and Washington.

Xie said that the China-US relationship is now in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties. Fundamentally, it is because some Americans portray China as an “imagined enemy', he said.

'It seems as if by making China an “imagined enemy', a national sense of purpose would be reignited in the US,' he said.

Xie told Sherman that the Chinese believe that one must not do to others what one does not like to be done to himself.

'The desire to seek hegemony or territorial expansion is simply not in the Chinese DNA. And China has never coerced any country. China responds to foreign interference with legitimate and lawful countermeasures.

'The aim is to defend the legitimate rights and interests of the country and uphold international equity and justice. China has never gone to others' doorsteps to provoke trouble. Neither has China ever stretched its arm into the households of others, still less has China ever occupied any inch of other countries' territory,' Xie told Sherman.

Xie's statement comes amid growing concerns in the Indo-Pacific region on China's aggressive actions and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, including India.

In Washington, the US Department of State said Sherman and Chinese State Councillor Wang had a frank and open discussion about a range of issues, demonstrating the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our two countries.

'They discussed ways to set terms for responsible management of the U.S-China relationship. The Deputy Secretary underscored that the United States welcomes the stiff competition between our countries—and that we intend to continue to strengthen our own competitive hand—but that we do not seek conflict with the People's Republic of China (PRC),' the statement said.

Sherman raised concerns in private 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,' it said.

In particular, she raised America's concerns about human rights, including Beijing’s anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong; the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; abuses in Tibet; and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press.

She also spoke about our concerns about Beijing’s conduct in cyberspace; across the Taiwan Strait; and in the East and South China Seas, the press release said.

Sherman also reiterated concerns about the China's unwillingness to cooperate with the World Health Organization and allow a second phase investigation in the PRC into COVID-19’s origins.

At the same time, she affirmed the importance of cooperation in areas of global interest, such as the climate crisis, counternarcotic, non-proliferation, and regional concerns including North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar, it said.

Sherman is the most senior US official to visit China in months. US President Joe Biden has taken a hard-line approach towards China, especially on issues like human rights and sanctions. Her visit is being viewed here as a preparatory step for the first meeting with Biden and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry's press release pointed out that Xie told Sherman that by demonising China, the US could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame Beijing for its own structural problems. The US keeps making an issue with China. It is as if the US side has nothing to talk about except about China. 'We urge the United States to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy,' the release quoted Xie as saying.

'It is the United States, not anybody else, who is the 'inventor, and patent and intellectual property owner of coercive diplomacy,' he said.

'It is the United States who has engaged in broad unilateral sanctions, long-arm jurisdiction and interference in other countries' internal affairs,' Xie said.

The US notion of “engaging other countries from a position of strength' is just another version of the big bullying the small and “might is right”. This is pure coercive diplomacy, the senior Chinese diplomat added.