U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made their debut on the global stage Tuesday in talks with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo that singled out China for the first time over its behavior and set the tone for the direction of the alliance.

In the first Cabinet-level trip abroad by members of U.S. President Joe Biden's administration, Blinken and Austin met with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi for “two-plus-two” security talks that focused on China, which Blinken has called “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”

“China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law,” Blinken said at a news conference following the meeting.