In a busy week of foreign policy developments, President Joe Biden and his top officials have engaged in tense exchanges with China, Russia and North Korea, all as the White House seeks to bolster America's historic alliances and push back. of authoritarian regimes.

Biden is juggling his commitment to diplomacy and multilateralism with his promise to push back the world's dictators, calculating that he and his allies argue that former President Donald Trump did little to stop.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Japan and South Korea this week, expressing shared concerns about regional aggression from China and North Korea.

But the trip prompted threats from Pyongyang, which a senior administration official told Newsweek that he has not responded to any US diplomatic outreach for more than a year.

Kim Yo Jong, sister and assistant to dictator Kim Jong Un, issued a statement that said: "We take this opportunity to warn the new administration of the United States that is striving to release the smell of gunpowder in our land.

"If you want to sleep peacefully for the next four years, you better refrain from causing a bad odor in the first step," Kim added. Combined with reports that North Korea may be preparing a new missile test, Kim's comments raised concerns about a new cycle of escalation between Washington, D.C. and Pyongyang.

Biden's team is committed to denuclearization, although many experts believe the ship has sailed. The White House has yet to address the idea of ​​arms control agreements with North Korea, which would be the next logical step after acknowledging that Kim Jong Un is unlikely to give up his nuclear weapons.

Deputy Chief State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters Thursday that North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programs are "illegal and constitute a threat to international peace and security."

The North Korean issue was one of the elements of the first of several bilateral face-to-face meetings between Blinken and senior Chinese officials that opened in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday.

The US delegation hoped to encourage China to pressure Pyongyang, but the meeting turned into a tense affair dominated by an irritable on-camera exchange at the start of the talks.

Blinken listed a number of complaints from the United States, prompting an irate response from Chinese delegations. Blinken listed China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, pressure on Taiwan, threat of cyberattacks against the United States, and economic coercion by American allies.

"Each of these actions threatens the rule-based order that maintains global stability," Blinken said. "That is why they are not merely internal matters, and that is why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today."

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the time that China's actions were an "assault on core values," adding: "We do not seek conflict, but we welcome tough competition."

Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi responded, accusing the United States of failing to address its own human rights issues, citing the continued killing of black Americans by law enforcement, and condemning American interventionism in the Middle East. Yang added that he does not appreciate the "condescension" of the American side.

Although touted by both sides as an opportunity to reestablish ties, the Anchorage meetings appear so far to be an opening salvo in the competition between the United States and China.

Biden came to power amid a bipartisan wave of concern over abuses by the Chinese Communist Party, including his conduct over the devastating coronavirus pandemic. Biden has vowed to take on Beijing, although his team has framed his position as one of competition rather than conflict.

Meanwhile, relations with a more established American adversary deteriorated further when Biden announced new sanctions against Russia and American officials released a new report confirming Moscow's meddling in the 2020 elections.

Biden suggested that President Vladimir Putin is a "murderer", linked to Russia's covert campaign against dissidents, including the now-jailed anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Biden is widely expected to take a hard line with Russia on a variety of issues, and on Thursday the State Department also issued a statement threatening sanctions against any company involved in the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to be extended. from Russia to Germany. Washington, D.C. sees the pipeline as a strategic threat to Europe and there is bipartisan opposition to the project on Capitol Hill.

The US measures drew condemnation from Russia, where lawmakers threatened escalation. The Russian embassy to the United States blamed the United States for the collapse of relations between Washington and Moscow, as the Kremlin continued to deny any involvement in its well-evidenced covert operations of influence and assassination.

Trump and his allies claimed in the election campaign that Biden would be too soft on foreign policy, particularly China, a fear apparently shared by Republican voters according to recent polls.

But so far, at least, Biden has been relatively faithful to his campaign promises to stand up to authoritarian regimes. For now, his administration is on track for four years of conflict with Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang.