China’s foreign minister is planning a confrontation with the US, protecting ties with Russia

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China and the United States are moving toward an inevitable collision, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday, a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a rare direct accusation that Washington was trying to contain China in.

Together, the statements reveal the true state of bilateral ties between the world’s two largest economies, a month after a false balloon brought a sudden and dramatic end to efforts to “put a floor” on the relationship.

In a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, Qin, who was previously Beijing’s ambassador to Washington but became foreign minister in December, used an array of often colorful metals – and sometimes colorless – to describe the severity of the tension.

He took several swipes at the Biden administration’s stated desire to build “guardrails” to prevent dissent from spiraling into crisis, an effort he cast as just a way to prevent China from ‘ revenge against criticism.

“If the United States does not pump the brakes and continue to go down the wrong road, a number of guardrails will not be able to stop [the relationship] from running off-road and moving over, and it is inevitable that we will fall into conflict and conflict,” he said at the press conference, the first time he has appeared as foreign minister at the annual meeting of China’s rubber stamp parliament.

In accusing the United States of unfair competition for sanctions imposed on Chinese companies, Qin compared an Olympic track and field event where there is no “one party” – understood clearly like the United States—“thinking about how to run the best. time, but he always travels to the other party and even wants to send them to the Paralympics.”

On Monday, Xi took the unusual step of name-checking the United States as leading a group of Western countries seeking to “contain, surround and suppress China”. He said that it is a “challenge of unprecedented severity to the development of our country.”

While China’s most powerful leader in decades often speaks of the country facing “unprecedented changes in a century” that could derail its rise, It was unusual for Xi to call out the United States directly by name, rather than referring to “specific countries” whose behavior Beijing does not like.

On the same day, Xi used a new slogan to highlight China’s strategy in the current period of challenges, saying that Beijing must “remain calm and resolute, seek progress through stability… [and] be united while you dare to fight.”

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The official media of the Chinese Communist Party identified that idea as an important guide to China’s foreign policy at a time of great changes in the international environment.

Shortly after securing a third term in power late last year, Xi appeared to be reversing China’s aggressive foreign policy, showing pragmatism in meetings with foreign leaders.

But the potential charm offensive has steadily declined because Beijing has been unwilling to give up key strategic interests such as its close partnership with Russia and sovereignty claims over Taiwan. That uncompromising stance — along with the diplomatic fallout from the suspected Chinese spy balloon that crossed over American airspace — has undermined Washington’s hopes of a holdover.

Qin’s delivery often suggested on Tuesday that Beijing’s assertive tone remains. At another point in the press conference, he made a show of reading from a red-covered copy of the People’s Republic of China’s constitution to underline Beijing’s claims that Taiwan’s self-governing democracy is part of the territory. “holy”.

In an effort to cast the United States as adopting double standards over international arms sales, he compared US military support for Taiwan’s self-defense programs to warnings from Washington not to send “lethal aid” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“Why, while telling China not to arm Russia, has the United States sold arms to Taiwan against [1982] cooperation?” Qin said, referring to the China-US agreement where the United States said it would not continue to sell arms to Taiwan indefinitely.

That position centered on Beijing expressing peaceful intentions towards Taiwan. China’s military has dramatically increased threats to Taiwan in recent years.

Qin’s rhetorical question, raised in the context of expressing China’s opposition to US support for Taiwan, appeared to be an indictment of American hypocrisy rather than a suggestion that Beijing was ready to arm Moscow.

Soon after, Qin denied that China had provided arms to any side of the Ukrainian conflict. But he said “The more turbulent the world becomes, the more China-Russia relations should make steady progress. “

Theodora Yu in Hong Kong and Pei-Lin Wu in Taiwan contributed to this report.

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