The U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, warning that some in America were pushing relations to a “new Cold War.”
“China has no intention to change the U.S., nor to replace the U.S. It is also wishful thinking for the U.S. to change China,” Wang said Sunday during his annual news briefing on the sidelines of National People’s Congress meetings in Beijing. He also criticized the U.S. for slowing its nuclear negotiations with North Korea and warned it not to cross Beijing’s “red line” on Taiwan.
The U.S.-China relationship has worsened dramatically in the past few months as America became one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The world’s two biggest economies have clashed on a range of issues from trade to human rights, with Beijing’s latest move to tighten its grip on Hong Kong setting up another showdown between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.
“Some U.S. political forces are taking hostage of China-U.S. relations, attempting to push the ties to the brink of so-called ‘new Cold War,’” Wang said. “This is dangerous and will endanger global peace.”
Wang cautioned the U.S. “not to challenge China’s red line” on Taiwan, after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo broke with tradition last week and congratulated the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen on her second-term inauguration. Beijing considers Taiwan a province.
“Reunification between the two sides of the Strait is an inevitable trend of history, no one and no force can stop it,” Wang said. China’s defence ministry blasted a U.S. plan to sell torpedoes to Taiwan.
And he blamed Washington for the stall in historic negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, saying China hoped to see continued interaction between the two sides. The comments came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — who has faced questions about his health — made his first public statement in three weeks, ordering military leaders to increase the country’s “nuclear war deterrence.”
“We have seen some positive steps taken by the DPRK in the last few years towards de-escalation and denuclearization,” Wang said. “Regrettably, these steps have not been reciprocated in a substantive way by the U.S. side. This is the main reason for the ongoing stalemate in the DPRK-U.S. dialogue.”
Tensions spiked last week after China announced the NPC would write sweeping legislation into Hong Kong law to criminalize the harshest criticism of China and the ruling party. The move drew swift condemnation from pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, who defied virus-related social-distancing measures and rallied in the city center even as Wang spoke.
Pompeo called the measure a “disastrous proposal” and indicated that it could lead the U.S. to reconsider Hong Kong’s special trade status.
Wang on Sunday repeated China’s stance that Hong Kong affairs were an internal matter and said the principle of non-interference must be upheld by all countries. He didn’t directly address potential U.S. retaliation over the legislation.
He also argued that the coronavirus pandemic showed how the world was a “global village” and needed to work together, while repeatedly rejecting foreign criticism of China’s internal affairs.
U.S. lawmakers have advanced several pieces of legislation targeting China in recent weeks with bipartisan support amid mounting calls for Beijing to be punished for its alleged failure to disclose information early on about the spread of COVID-19. The virus has cost almost 100,000 American lives and tens of millions of jobs.
Xi said Saturday he won’t let China return to its days as a planned economy, pushing back against U.S. criticism that the nation has failed to deliver on promised reforms.
“We’ve come to the understanding that we should not ignore the blindness of the market, nor should we return to the old path of a planned economy,” he told political advisers gathered in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said.