(NEW YORK) — On the sidelines of China’s annual National People’s Congress this week, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and newly promoted Foreign Minister Qin Gang aired their respective frustrations at the United States.
In a closed-door session with delegates from China’s private sector Monday, Xi made a rare direct reference to the United States when blaming Washington for his nation’s economic challenges.
In the Chinese-language readout of the meeting from the Xinhua News Agency, Xi said, “The Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, containment and suppression on our country, bringing unprecedented severe challenges to the our development.”
The criticism does not appear in the English-language version.
Xi’s remarks come as U.S.-China tension have remained high since the U.S. accused Beijing of sending a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States last month and then proceede to shoot it down with a fighter jet.
Despite both sides having signaled a desire for a reset when Xi met with President Joe Biden at the G20 in Bali last November, the two largest economies in the world remain at odds on a whole host of issues not limited to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Taiwan and advanced semiconductors.
The Chinese leader’s frustrations during Monday’s panel discussion came on the heels of the U.S. asking Japan and the Netherlands to tighten export controls of chip manufacturing equipment and technologies to China, prompting an angry response from Beijing.
During his first press conference as foreign minister, Qin Gang — most recently the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. — warned that while Beijing was “committed” to stable ties with Washington, the relationship will worsen if the U.S. does not change its attitude toward China and potentially incite conflict.
“If the U.S. does not hit the brake, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflicts and confrontation,” said Qin. “Who will bear the catastrophic consequences?”
Bringing up the balloon incident, Qin said that the U.S. took “advantage of the topic and created a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided.”
“The U.S. perception and views of China are seriously distorted. It regards China as its primary rival and the most consequential geopolitical challenge. This is like the first button of a shirt being put wrong,” Qin continued.
“Containment and suppression will not make America great again, nor will it stop China from moving towards national rejuvenation,” he said.
Qin later slammed the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy, accusing Washington of forming “exclusive small circles” to provoke confrontation, decoupling and creating an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO.”
“The real purpose of the Indo-Pacific strategy is to contain China,” Qin said. “No Cold War should be repeated in Asia, and no Ukraine-style crisis should be repeated in Asia.”
On relations with Russia, Qin said the China-Russia ties “do not pose a threat to any country in the world, nor will it be interfered or sowed discord in by any third party.”
“The more unstable the world becomes, the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance their relations,” he said.
On Taiwan, Qin warned the U.S. not to “interfere in China’s internal affairs” saying the issue is a “red line that must not be crossed” and the “bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”
Qin slammed the U.S. for double-standards when discussing Ukraine and Taiwan, saying “the Chinese people have the right to ask why the U.S. talks about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Ukraine issue, but does not respect China on the Taiwan issue? Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia while keeps selling arms to Taiwan?”
Beijing sees self-governing Taiwan as a renegade province and claims the island as its territory despite never having directly controlled it.
In an appeal for getting U.S.-China relations back on track, Qin drew from his tenure in the States.
“I have noticed that more and more people in the United States are deeply worried about the current Sino-US relations, and they have called on the US government to implement a rational and pragmatic China policy,” Qin said.
Qin attempted to highlight a distinction between U.S. politicians and the American people, echoing a tactic used in Washington to distinguish between the ruling Communist Party of China and the Chinese people.
“The American people are as warm, friendly and honest as the Chinese people. They all pursue a happy life and a better world. When I was working in the United States, the workers at the Long Beach dock in Los Angeles told me that the livelihood of the whole family depended on the trade of goods between China and the United States, and that the two countries should prosper together,” he said.
“Whenever I think of them, I think that what determines China-U.S. relations should be the common interests of the two countries, shared responsibilities and friendship between the two peoples, rather than U.S. domestic politics and hysterical Neo-McCarthyism,” Qin added.
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