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China’s foreign minister warns ‘reckless’ US of ‘conflict and confrontation’

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 Minister Qin Gang attends a news conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on March 7, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

China's foreign minister Qin Gang has warned that “conflict and confrontation” with the United States is inevitable if Washington continues its "reckless" approach to relations with Beijing.

In his first press conference as China’s top diplomat on the sidelines of an annual parliament meeting on Tuesday, Qin delivered a sharp rebuke of US policies and vowed to bolster ties with Russia.

"The United States' perception and views of China are seriously distorted," Qin said, noting that Washington "regards China as its primary rival and the most consequential geopolitical challenge".

Qin, who had been until recently China’s ambassador to the US, adopted a combative tone in his maiden presser as China's foreign minister, warning of the “catastrophic consequences” of what he described as a “reckless gamble” by Washington in how it treats Beijing.

The US says it is setting up guardrails for ties with China and is not seeking conflict, but what this means in practice is that Beijing is not supposed to respond with words or actions when slandered or attacked, he said, calling it "impossible".

"If the United States does not hit the brake, and continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailment, which will become conflict and confrontation and who will bear the catastrophic consequences," the new Chinese top diplomat asserted.

He noted that the development of other countries would not undermine that of the US.

"If the United States has the ambition to make itself great again, it should also have a broad mind for the development of other countries," Qin said. "Containment and suppression will not make America great. It will not stop the rejuvenation of China."

He accused the US of overreacting in its response, which he said created “a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided.”

"The US perception and views of China are seriously distorted. It regards China as its primary rival and the biggest geopolitical challenge.”

Relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated sharply after former president Donald Trump launched a trade war against China in 2018. 

China hoped for an improvement in relations under the administration of Joe Biden, but the new US government has shown no sign of backing down on its hardline policies toward China.

Tensions between the two arch-foes soared further last month after a suspected Chinese spy balloon floated in American skies and was shot down by US fighter jets

The top Chinese diplomat highlighted the issue of Taiwan as “the political foundation of Sino-US relations and the first red line that must not be crossed", referring to the US provocative measures.

He urged the US not to “interfere in China’s internal affairs” and questioned the Biden administration's different responses to the issues of Ukraine and Taiwan.

“Why does the US talk up respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Ukraine issue, but does not respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the issue of Taiwan? Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia while keeps selling arms to Taiwan?” Qin asked.

He said an "invisible hand" was pushing for the escalation of the war in Ukraine, in an apparent reference to the US and its NATO allies.

Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there will be "consequences" if Beijing gives weapons to Russia while Biden has vowed to "defend Taiwan" in the event of tensions.

Qin rejected reports that arms had been sent to Moscow, and insisted China remains prepared to take necessary measures to achieve "reunification" with Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory. 

He defended the close alliance between China and Russia and said the ties between them “set an example for global foreign relations”.

“With China and Russia working together, the world will have a driving force,” he said. “The more unstable the world becomes the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance their relations.”

Beijing has on many occasions slammed Washington for escalating the conflict by providing Ukraine with a large cache of weapons.

The US and its allies have provided Kiev with billions of dollars in military aid since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in February last year.

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