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US officials have ‘gone mad’ in dealing with China: Beijing

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks at a news conference in Beijing, China, on July 17, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

China says US officials have “lost their minds and gone mad” in dealing with Beijing, in the strongest verbal reaction from China to the ratcheting up of tensions by Washington.

“These people, for self-interest and political gain, do not hesitate to hijack domestic public opinion… to the point where they have lost their minds and gone mad,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a daily news briefing in Beijing on Friday.

Earlier, US Attorney General Bill Barr had accused Beijing of mounting an “aggressive” campaign to gain top economic status.

“The People’s Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg — an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government and indeed whole-of-society campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower,” Barr said in a speech on Thursday.

Hua said Barr had misread China’s intentions.

“A sparrow cannot understand the ambition of a swan,” she said. “This is a serious misjudgment and misunderstanding of China’s strategic intent.”

But she said China had no intention of challenging or replacing the United States, expressing hope that Washington could “return to rationality” in its China policy.

Relations between the United States and China have hit the lowest level in decades. The two are at loggerheads over a range of issues, including trade, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the coronavirus pandemic. In all of those cases, Washington has been aggressively ramping up rhetoric against Beijing in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would do everything it could to support China’s rivals in territorial disputes, declaring a one-size-fits-all, openly hostile policy toward Beijing.

On Monday, the US said it would treat Beijing’s pursuit of resources in the South China Sea as “illegal,” and also threatened to impose sanctions on China over accusations of the exploitation of offshore resources in the South China Sea, where Beijing is involved in territorial disputes with regional countries.

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