China hints at Conflict with the US and ties Chinese Aid to Russia with American Aid to Taiwan
"The United States and China are sliding toward inevitable conflict if Washington does not change its approach toward Beijing. Moreover, the US has no right to criticize the possibility that the Asian giant is helping Russia in its war in Ukraine, while itself is providing weapons to Taiwan."
These were some of the sharp messages from the new Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang, whose first press conference was filled with criticism of the US and defense of ties with Russia, and explanations of his idea of what the Chinese alternative to the "Western system" could be.
He also outlined the country's foreign policy priorities. They, in his words, are "to be the engine of global power and prosperity; to inspire modernization, especially in the Global South; however, to disprove the myth that modernization is westernization; to propose solutions to global problems - something impossible now that someone else has taken the microphone."
If the US doesn't hit the brakes
"Relations with Moscow become more necessary the more unstable the world," said Qin, who took over from Wang Yi. "If China and Russia work together, the world will have a driving force," and the "close contact" between the two countries rests largely to the relations of the heads of state. Again, he explained that this partnership is not directed against anyone. Ten days ago, Beijing offered a position to end the war in Ukraine after a visit by Qin's predecessor to Russia, but it offered no solution to the lingering problems.
For him, the US may talk about wanting to compete with China, but "in reality, the so-called US competition is total containment and suppression, a zero-sum game where you die and I live."
"If the US does not hit the brakes but continues to accelerate down the wrong path, no guardrails will stop the derailment, there will certainly be conflict and opposition." said the Foreign Minister of China
"Guardrails" is the term the US usually uses to describe all the mechanisms it is working on to de-escalate with China. At a meeting with European media in December, a representative of the State Department explained that these mechanisms are discussed in talks at any level between the US and China, regardless of the intensifying rivalry. For Gang, however, the US's idea of "guardrails" is that China should not respond in word or deed to attacks or slander.
The first diplomat also gave an example of the downed Chinese balloon after flying over the US, which Washington claimed was spying, and Beijing claimed that it was collecting weather data. "The perception and opinions of the US about China are seriously distorted. They see China as the main enemy and the most significant geopolitical challenge. It's like having the first button on your shirt crooked."
Taiwan and Ukraine
Qin also equated US support for Taiwan, with which China wants "peaceful unification" (but against which it has not ruled out the use of force), with possible help for Russia in the war in Ukraine.
"Why is the US asking China not to provide arms to Russia while continuing to sell arms to Taiwan?" asked Gang.
In recent weeks, Washington has increasingly warned of the risk of China taking such a step.
The US, for its part, is required to help Taiwan defend itself under a law passed near the end of the Cold War after it formally established diplomatic relations with China and severed those with the island.
China insists that Taiwan is an "internal Chinese" matter, although the democratically-ruled island rejects that claim (and support for reunification is in the single digits), and yesterday the defense minister in Taipei warned of a rising risk of Beijing's intervention. According to Gang, it is "absurd" for high-ranking American representatives to interfere in this problem.
"The Taiwan issue is the cornerstone of the political foundations of the US-China relationship and the first red line that should not be crossed in the US-China relationship," Qin also said.
Gang also expressed the opinion that the war in Ukraine has reached a "critical point" and if the conflict does not stop now, the crisis will "get out of control".
Without naming specific countries or players, he also expressed the notion that an "invisible hand" is "using the Ukrainian crisis to serve a specific geopolitical agenda."
On the war in Ukraine, China claims to be neutral, despite its "boundless friendship" with Russia. claims to support Ukraine's territorial integrity but does not condemn the war, although some companies have stopped doing business in Russia.
Since the start of the war, President Xi Jinping has met several times with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, but not with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, despite Beijing's claims of neutrality. There have been reports in Russian media that Xi may travel to Russia after the current session of the National People's Congress (a body equivalent to a parliament) ends this week, but Qin did not give a definite answer.
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