China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned on Tuesday that “conflict and confrontation” with the United States is inevitable if Washington does not change course, delivering a stern and far-reaching rebuke to US policies for its first press conference in the new role.
Qin, who until recently served as China’s ambassador to the United States, has earned a reputation as a careful and accomplished diplomat abroad.
But he struck a much more combative tone in his first appearance as foreign minister at China’s annual parliamentary meeting, warning of the “catastrophic consequences” of what he described as a ” reckless gamble” by Washington on how it treats its superpower.
“If the United States does not brake, but continues to accelerate on the wrong track, no safety barrier can prevent the derailment, and there will surely be conflicts and confrontations,” Qin said on the sidelines of the assembly. national people in Beijing. .
At the highly scripted event, Qin set the tone for China’s foreign policy for the year ahead and beyond, chastising the US for rising bilateral tensions and defending Beijing’s close partnership with Moscow. .
Ties between the world’s two largest economies are at their worst in decades, and tensions rose further last month after a suspected Chinese spy balloon floated over North America and was later swept away. shot down by American fighter planes.
On Tuesday, Qin accused the United States of overreacting in its response, which he said created “a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided.”
The incident, Qin said, shows that “the United States’ perception and opinions on China are seriously distorted. It sees China as its main rival and the biggest geopolitical challenge.
“The United States pretends that it seeks to compete with China but does not seek conflict. But in reality, the so-called “competition” of the United States is all-out containment and repression, a zero-sum game. life or death,” he said.
“Containment and repression will not make America great, and the United States will not stop China’s rejuvenation,” Qin said.
The great power rivalry between the United States and China has intensified in recent years.
Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has become increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad, taking a more aggressive approach to exerting influence and countering the West.
Meanwhile, Washington pushed back.
Under the Biden administration, the United States has strengthened its ties with allies and partners to contain Beijing’s growing influence, including in its backyard.
He has also pushed to decouple from China in emerging technologies, recently banning the export of advanced chips to the fury of Beijing.
Qin lashed out at Washington for its Indo-Pacific strategy, accusing it of forming exclusive blocs to provoke confrontation, advocating decoupling and plotting an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO”.
“The real goal of the Indo-Pacific strategy is to contain China,” Qin said. “No cold war should be repeated in Asia, and no Ukrainian-style crisis should be repeated in Asia.”
China’s refusal to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine and its growing partnership with Moscow have further strained its relations with the West. While Beijing has sought to portray itself as a neutral peace broker, it has also defended its “rock-solid” ties with Russia.
On Tuesday, Qin said China-Russia relations “do not pose a threat to any country in the world, nor will they be interfered with or divisive by any third party.”
“The more unstable the world becomes, the more imperative it is for China and Russia to advance their relationship,” he said.
Qin pointed to the Taiwan issue as “the political foundation of China-US relations and the first red line that should not be crossed.”
The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan’s self-governing democracy as part of its territory, although it has never controlled it, and refuses to rule out the use of force to “reunite” it with mainland China.
On Tuesday, Qin urged the United States not to “meddle in China’s internal affairs” and questioned Washington’s various responses to Ukraine and Taiwan issues.
“Why does the United States talk about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Ukraine issue, but does not respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Taiwan issue? Why is the United States asking China not to supply arms to Russia while continuing to sell arms to Taiwan? Qin said.