China warns US about 'smears' and 'attacks'
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday that China wants the US to respect its foreign and domestic policies, drop economic sanctions, and “abandon the Cold War mentality.” Blinken told reporters that he pressed Wang over China’s refusal to sanction Russia, apparently to no avail.
Blinken and Wang met on Saturday, one day after a gathering in Indonesia of the top diplomats of the G20 nations. The meeting came at a critical point for Washington-Beijing relations, with the FBI warning this week of “pervasive” industrial espionage and cybercrime emanating from China, and with US President Joe Biden recently stating that American troops would fight any Chinese attempt to retake Taiwan – a statement his aides swiftly corrected.
“Since the US has promised that it has no intention of conflict with China, it should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity [and] stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Wang told Blinken, according to a readout from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Wang accused the US of attempting to “hollow out and distort the One China Policy,” referring to Washington’s official position that it recognizes, but does not endorse, China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.
Furthermore, the US should “stop smearing and attacking China’s political system and domestic and foreign policies,” Wang said in a statement that could refer to multiple lines of attack from the US, including allegations of human rights abuses and the FBI’s recent cybercrime warning.
While Wang acknowledged that Blinken told him the US is “open to cooperation with China,” he said Washington should “abandon the Cold War mentality, not engage in zero-sum games, and stop ganging up.” China has repeatedly condemned the AUKUS alliance – a trilateral military pact between the US, UK and Australia – and the ‘Quad’ partnership between the US, India, Australia and Japan, as attempts to build an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO.”
Speaking to reporters after Saturday’s meeting, Blinken focused on China’s response to the conflict in Ukraine. Beijing has not joined the US and its allies in condemning Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and has stepped up trade with Russia while the Western world sanctions Moscow. However, China has called for a negotiated end to the conflict.
“What you hear from Beijing is that it claims to be neutral. I would start with the proposition that it’s pretty hard to be neutral when it comes to this aggression,” Blinken said. “I tried to convey to the state councilor that this really is a moment where we all have to stand up [to Russia].”
Blinken also accused China of “amplifying Russian propaganda,” likely a reference to China’s vocal condemnation of US foreign policy and the multiple conflicts it has started since the end of the Cold War.
Wang did not respond directly to these accusations, and did not speak with reporters after Saturday’s meeting. According to the official readout of his conversation with Blinken, the two “exchanged in-depth views on the Ukraine issue.”