A senior Chinese diplomat has warned that a “negative trend” by the US towards China could lead to “disaster”, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Sunday (April 18). He lashed out at Washington’s criticism of China’s human rights abuses.
On Friday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told the Associated Press that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration’s definition of China-U.S. relations as competition, cooperation and confrontation was negative.
He called for greater co-operation on issues such as the fight against COVID-19 and climate change on an “equal” basis, rather than “one side making a series of demands from the other”.
“Regrettably, there is a negative trend in the US… Some are competing to take a tougher line on China and see this as the politically correct thing to do. This trend is dangerous and could lead Sino-US relations astray and the world into disaster. This trend must be stopped.”
Last week, China and the United States held climate talks in Shanghai, where they agreed to strengthen cooperation on the issue. Biden will host a virtual summit on climate change later this week, to which Chinese President Xi Jinping and 39 other world leaders will be invited.
While Beijing hopes the Biden administration will reset relations with the United States, tensions have continued to rise over Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as its increasingly assertive stance on territorial disputes over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Mr Le said Mr Xi was considering attending the climate summit hosted by Mr Biden, but noted that demands from some countries for China to speed up its timetable for cutting emissions were unrealistic.
“In terms of climate response, China is at a different stage from the US and developed countries in Europe,” he said. China will continue to do its best to make greater contribution to global emission reduction in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.”
On the human rights issue, Le Yucheng said that the so-called “reason” for some countries in the United States and Europe to impose sanctions on enterprises in Xinjiang is “forced labor”, or even “genocide”. Their approach is to label it as “forced labor” and “genocide”, then impose sanctions, and then ask us to go to Xinjiang to investigate and find evidence. This is a typical presumption of guilt. Le also insisted that the area was open to journalists and Western diplomats.
“Xinjiang is open for everyone,” he said. That’s why we invited foreign journalists. But some people are afraid to go. We have invited envoys from some western countries to visit Xinjiang, but they haven’t made a decision yet. Afraid of what? We welcome them to visit and investigate Xinjiang, but they are not allowed to conduct so-called ‘investigations’. It’s like when a friend comes to my house, we welcome him, but if you come to my house and dig through my closet and looking for evidence of a crime, of course I don’t welcome him.”
In response to the US ban on imports of tomatoes and cotton from Xinjiang, Mr Le accused the US of “increasing unemployment and poverty in the region” and said the real aim of the sanctions was to “contain China’s development”.
The Chinese government has rejected the allegations of forced Labour and insists its hard-line policies in Xinjiang have been effective in combating terrorist and separatist groups.
“The US doesn’t trust us because it has its own agenda,” Le said. It prefers the presumption of guilt.”
Mr Le also defended Beijing’s recent electoral reforms to Hong Kong’s legislative system, saying it was vital to ensure that “patriots” governed the territory. On Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, he said there was “no room for compromise”.
Following Washington’s policy of “encouraging the US government to engage with Taiwan”, Mr Le said China was opposed to any official contact between the two countries. “Whether it is at a low level or a high level, we are firmly opposed to official contact and the US should not play the Taiwan card. It’s dangerous.”
On tensions in the South China Sea, Le Yucheng lashed out at the US warship’s passage through disputed waters. Beijing claims 90 per cent of the South China Sea as its territory.
“The South China Sea could have been peaceful and tranquil, but the US has been showing off its military power and stirring up discord,” Le said. Let me give you an example. There are usually pedestrians on your front door, but if someone comes to your front door with a weapon and flexes his muscles, or even peeps into your house, and lingers for a long time, that is a provocation, a disturbance, a threat, and of course it is firmly opposed.”