China and ‘reckless’ US are heading for ‘catastrophic’ conflict if America ‘continues to speed down the wrong path’, warns Beijing as President Xi accuses Washington of ‘suppressing’ his country
- Beijing said US’ China police ‘entirely deviated from the rational and sound track’
- Foreign Minister also hailed Beijing-Moscow relations amid Putin’s Ukraine war
China and ‘reckless’ American are heading for a ‘catastrophic’ conflict if Washington ‘continues to speed down the wrong path,’ a Beijing foreign minister warned on Tuesday in his first new conference since taking office.
Qin Gang lashed out at the US over deteriorating bilateral relations and Washington’s support for Taiwan, while praising Beijing’s growing ties to Moscow which he said ‘set an example for global foreign relations’.
He also insinuated that America was undermining efforts for peace in Ukraine in order to extend the conflict for its own benefit, amid reports that China is considering sending arms to Russia to help with Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion.
In his wide-ranging press conference, he dismissed warnings from Western countries that China may supply Russia with arms, saying it would not accept ‘blame-shifting, sanctions, suppression and threats’ targeting Beijing.
His comments came as President Xi Jinping condemned what he branded an American-led ‘suppression of China’, as he urged the country’s private sector to boost innovation and become more self-reliant.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (pictured) lashed out Tuesday at the US over deteriorating bilateral relations and Washington’s support for Taiwan. He also insinuated that America was undermining efforts for peace in Ukraine in order to extend the conflict for its own benefit
China’s technology ambitions have been hit with a raft of restrictions by the United States and its Western allies, and Beijing has doubled down on the need to shift away from imports for sectors perceived as vital to national security, such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
The US has tightened sanctions on Chinese chipmakers, citing national security concerns and the risk of the technology being used by China’s military.
In his Tuesday press conference, Qin Gang went on to say the relationship between China and the US needed to be based on mutual interests and friendship, rather than ‘US domestic politics and hysterical neo-McCarthyism’.
Washington’s China policy has ‘entirely deviated from the rational and sound track,’ Qin told journalists on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, in his only formal scheduled news conference for the year, although he is also prone to taking questions during foreign visits.
READ MORE: China could invade Taiwan by 2026 sparking a war that would drag in Australia and see missile attacks on the country, experts say
Washington ‘means to contain and suppress China in all respects and get the two countries locked in a zero-sum game,’ he said.
‘It’s so-called establishing guardrails and not seeking conflict simply means that China should not respond in words or action when slandered or attacked,’ Qin said. ‘That is just impossible.’
‘If the United States does not hit the brake, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing and there surely will be conflict and confrontation,’ he said. ‘Such competition is a reckless gamble, with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity.’
Qin’s harsh and borderline apocalyptic language appeared to defy predictions that China was abandoning its aggressive ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy in favour of a more moderate presentation as bilateral relations have hit a historical low over trade and technology, Taiwan, human rights and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
China last week responded with indignation to US suggestions that COVID-19, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, originated from a leak of the virus from a Chinese lab.
The Foreign Ministry accused the US of ‘politicising the issue’ in an attempt to discredit China.
After serving briefly as ambassador to Washington, Qin was appointed foreign minister at the end of December, in which role he is junior to the Communist Party’s senior foreign policy official, Wang Yi.
Earlier in his career, he served as Foreign Ministry spokesperson, gaining a reputation for his tartly worded condemnations of China’s critics.
On Tuesday, Qin repeated criticisms of Washington’s recent shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US east coast, saying that was entirely an unexpected accident caused by force majuere.
‘However, in violation of the spirit of international law, international customary practices, the United States acted with the presumption of guilt,’ Qin said.
‘It overreacted, abused force and dramatized the accident, creating a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided.’
‘In this case the United States’ perception and views of China are seriously distorted. It regards China as its primary rival and the most consequential geopolitical challenge,’ Qin said.
‘This is like the first button in a shirt being put wrong and the result is that the US-China policy has entirely deviated from the rational and sound track.’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a planned visit to Beijing in the wake of the balloon incident, frustrating hopes for improved ties after meetings between top leaders at multilateral gatherings in late 2022.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, March 7
The massive balloon and its payload, including electronics and optics, have been recovered from the ocean floor and are being analysed by the FBI.
Turning to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy China claims as its own territory, Qin called the issue the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations.
‘The US has unshakable responsibility for causing the Taiwan question,’ he said, accusing the US of ‘disrespecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ by offering the island political backing and furnishing it with defensive weapons in response to Beijing’s threat to use force to bring it under Chinese control.
‘Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia, while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan?’ Qin said. ‘Mishandling of the Taiwan question will shake the very foundation of China-US relations.’
China has stepped up its diplomatic isolation and military harassment of Taiwan, prompting a string of visits from US and European politicians to show their support, along with new arms sales and a push by Taiwanese authorities to boost domestic defense capabilities.
Beijing has also accused the West of ‘fanning the flames’ by providing Ukraine with weaponry to fend off the Russian invasion.
China says it has a neutral stance in the war that began one year ago, but has also said it has a ‘no-limits friendship’ with Russia and has refused to criticise Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as an invasion.
Qin defended China’s close relationship with Russia, saying the ties between Beijing and Moscow ‘set an example for global foreign relations’.
‘With China and Russia working together, the world will have a driving force,’ he said. ‘The more unstable the world becomes the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance their relations.’
He told the news conference that the leadership of the two countries were in ‘close contact’ with the ‘head of state’ friendship forming the key foundation of this.
‘The strategic partnership … will surely grow from strength to strength,’ he said.
A Chinese peace proposal for Ukraine that has drawn praise from Russia but dismissals from the West has done nothing to lessen tensions as US officials have repeatedly accused China of considering the provision of weapons to Russia.
Russia has already turned to Iran to prop up its dwindling supply of missiles and ammunition in its war against Ukraine.
China has dismissed the suggestion that it could send arms to Russia, while the US has said it has credible intelligence that it is under consideration.
‘Efforts for peace talks have been repeatedly undermined. There seems to be an invisible hand pushing for the protraction and escalation of the conflict and using the Ukraine crisis to serve a certain geopolitical agenda,’ Qin said.
‘Conflicts, sanctions and pressure will not solve the problem. What is needed is calmness, reason and dialogue,’ he said.
The minister also attacked US actions in the Indo-Pacific, where Washington and its allies have been alarmed over China’s moves to woo a number island nations.
That includes signing a pact with the Solomon Islands that would allow port visits by Chinese warships for ‘logistical replenishment’ and for China to send police, military personnel and other forces to the Solomons ‘to assist in maintaining social order.’
‘The US Indo-Pacific strategy, while purportedly aimed at upholding freedom and openness, maintaining security and promoting prosperity in the region is, in fact, an attempt to gang up to form exclusive blocs to provoke confrontation by plotting an Asian-Pacific version of NATO,’ Qin said.
Qin’s news conference came two days after the opening of the yearly meeting of the National People’s Congress, a mostly ceremonial body assembled to approve government reports and, this year, a new slate of top-level appointments.
That is expected to include a norm-breaking third five-year term as president for Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who has eliminated all term limits to allow him to rule indefinitely.
At Sunday’s opening session, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang announced plans for a consumer-led revival of the struggling economy, setting this year’s growth target at ‘around 5%.’
Separately, the Ministry of Finance announced a 7.2% budget increase for the ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, to 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion), marking a slight increase over 2022.
China’s military spending is the world’s second highest after the United States.
A spokesperson for the congress said such spending was needed to meet ‘complex security challenges.’
Meanwhile, in a rare direct criticism of the US, Xi told industry leaders that ‘Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development’.
Xi, who will be granted a third consecutive presidential term in the coming days at the highly choreographed National Party Congress (NPC), said the past five years have been riddled with a new set of hurdles that threaten to weigh down China’s economic rise.
China says it has a neutral stance in the war that began one year ago, but has also said it has a ‘no-limits friendship’ with Russia and has refused to criticise Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as an invasion. Pictured: President Xi Jinping meets Vladimir Putin in 2022
According to state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi said China must ‘have the courage to fight as the country faces profound and complex changes in both the domestic and international landscape’, in the address to delegates at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which runs alongside the NPC.
The 69-year-old said private firms ‘should take the initiative to pursue high-quality development’, Xinhua reported late Monday.
Earlier this week Xi vowed to bolster China’s manufacturing capacity and said the country should be able to fend for itself.
‘I’ve always said there are two critical areas for China: one is to safeguard our rice bowl, and the other is to build up a strong manufacturing sector,’ he said.
‘As a great nation of 1.4 billion people, we must rely on ourselves… We can’t depend on international markets to save us.’
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