China warns US to end repression or risk ‘conflict’

© Reuters. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a press conference as a bystander at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Ryan Wu

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that the United States should change its “distorted” attitude toward China or else “conflict and confrontation” would continue, revising Washington’s position on the war in Ukraine. defended and defended close ties with Russia.

Foreign Minister Qin Gang said at a press conference at the annual National Assembly in Beijing that the United States was committed to suppressing and containing China, not to fair, rules-based competition.

Qin, a trusted aide to President Xi Jinping and until recently serving as China’s ambassador to Washington, said that “the United States’ perception and view of China is seriously distorted.”

“We see China as our main rival and our most significant geopolitical challenge. It’s like the first button on your shirt is wrong.”

Relations between the two superpowers have been strained for years over a number of issues, including Taiwan, trade and, most recently, the war in Ukraine, after the United States shot down a balloon over the US East Coast last month. , the relationship deteriorated. spy craft.

The United States has said it has established guardrails in the relationship and is not seeking conflict, but Mr. Qin said what that really means is that if China is slandered or attacked, China will respond with words and deeds. He said that he was not supposed to.

“That’s totally impossible,” Hata said at his first press conference since becoming foreign minister at the end of December.

Mr. Qin’s comments echoed the harsh tone of his predecessor, Mr. Wang Yi.

“If the United States does not hit the brakes and continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails will prevent the derailment, which will lead to conflict and confrontation, and who will bear the devastating consequences? ?”

US officials often talk about establishing guardrails in bilateral relations to prevent tensions from escalating into crisis.

Hata likened the Central American race to that between two Olympians.

“It’s not fair competition if one side always tries to trip the other side, even to the extent that they have to compete in the Paralympics, instead of focusing on doing their best,” he said. .

“Jackal and Wolf”

At a press conference lasting nearly two hours answering questions submitted in advance, Mr. Qin was adamant about “wolf-warrior diplomacy,” the assertive and often aggressive stance adopted by Chinese diplomats since 2020. defended as

“When jackals and wolves block the way and hungry wolves attack us, Chinese diplomats must dance with the wolves to protect and defend our home and country.

Hata also said an “invisible hand” was pushing for the escalation of the war in Ukraine “to serve a particular geopolitical agenda”, but did not specify who he was referring to. I didn’t.

He repeated China’s call for dialogue to end the war.

China struck an “unrestricted” partnership with Russia last year just weeks before it invaded Ukraine, with China accusing NATO expansion of triggering the war, echoing Russia’s grievances.

China has vehemently defended its position against Ukraine, refusing to condemn the aggression, despite Western criticism that it did not identify Russia as the aggressor.

China also vehemently denies US accusations that it is considering supplying arms to Russia.

Strengthening relations with Moscow

Qin said China needs to move forward with its relationship with Russia as the world becomes more turbulent and close exchanges between President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have cemented ties between neighbors. said there is.

When President Xi Jinping was asked if he would visit Russia after China’s parliamentary session, he did not give a clear answer.

Xi has met with Putin several times since Russia invaded its southwestern neighbor a year ago, but not with his Ukrainian counterpart. This undermines China’s claims of neutrality in the conflict, a top Kiev diplomat in Beijing said last month.

Asked whether China and Russia might abandon the US dollar and euro for bilateral trade, Qin said countries should use whatever currency is efficient, safe and reliable. rice field.

China has been trying to internationalize its own currency, the renminbi. The yuan gained popularity in Russia last year after Western sanctions kept Russian banks and many companies out of the dollar and euro payment systems.

“Currencies should not be a trump card for unilateral sanctions, much less a camouflage for bullying and coercion,” Hata said.

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