The new foreign minister of China, Qin Gang, has warned the US to alter its “distorted” foreign policy vis-a-vis China or face “conflict and confrontation”.
Qin made the comments during his first press conference as foreign minister since assuming office in December last year. Qin, who was previously China’s ambassador to the US, is a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The comments come at a low point in bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing, exacerbated by the recent spy balloon debacle.
China’s foreign minister warns the US
Qin made the comments on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the Two Sessions political gathering that occurs annually in Beijing. The Two Sessions facilitate meetings between China’s legislature and the top political advisory body and attract thousands of officials from across the country.
Qin took the opportunity to outline China’s foreign policy agenda in the coming years but also commented on the increasingly antagonistic relationship between Beijing and Washington, which has grown even worse since the US shot down a flying object thought to be a Chinese spy balloon.
“If the US does not put on the brakes and continues to roar down the wrong road, no amount of guardrails can stop the derailment and overturning, and it is bound to fall into conflict and confrontation. Who will bear its disastrous consequences?” Qin said.
“The US perception and views of China are seriously distorted. It regards China as its primary rival and the biggest geopolitical challenge. The US claims it seeks to compete with China but does not seek conflict. But in reality, the so-called ‘competition’ by the US is all-round containment and suppression, a zero-sum game of life and death,” the Chinese foreign minister continued.
“Containment and suppression will not make America great, and the US will not stop the rejuvenation of China,” Qin added.
Ukraine and Taiwan
The issue of Taiwan has become a particularly prescient sticking point between the US and China. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), which rules the mainland, claims that Taiwan is part of its territory under its “One China Principle”.
However, Taiwan has been administered by the Republic of China (ROC) since the end of the Second World War. Recently, under the Biden administration, Washington has signaled that it would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
Qin described the issue as the “political foundation of Sino-US relations and the first red line that must not be crossed.”
The Chinese foreign minister also drew comparisons between the Taiwan issue and the war in Ukraine. “Why does the US talk up respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Ukraine issue, but does not respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the issue of Taiwan? Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan?” Qin said.
When the issue of the Ukraine war was raised, Qin defended Beijing’s ties with Moscow, amid concerns raised by Washington that China might supply Russia with weapons and material for use in the conflict.
“The more unstable the world becomes the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance relations,” Qin said.