The United States must change its “distorted” view of China or “conflict and confrontation” will follow, China’s foreign minister said Tuesday, as he defended Beijing’s stance on the war in Ukraine and close ties with Russia.
The US has engaged in suppressing and controlling China instead of engaging in fair and rules-based competition, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told reporters on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing.
“The United States’ perception and views of China are deeply distorted,” said Qin, who is an adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping and until recently was China’s ambassador to Washington.
“The US sees China as the main rival and the biggest geopolitical challenge,” he said.
Relations between the two world superpowers have been strained for years over a range of issues, including Taiwan, trade and, more recently, the war in Ukraine. But in recent months reports soured after the US shot down a balloon in its airspace and said it was a Chinese spy balloon.
The US has said it is not seeking conflict, but Qin said it is in practice that China should not respond in word or deed when attacked.
“This is impossible,” he said. His statements are similar to those of his successor, Wang Yi.
“If the US is not restrained and continues to go down the wrong path, no safeguards will prevent it from going off the rails, which would turn into conflict and confrontation, and who will bear the catastrophic consequences?” said Qin.
US officials have often talked about putting safeguards in place in bilateral relations with China to prevent tensions from escalating into crisis.
During the press conference, Qin also said that “an invisible hand” is pushing to escalate the war in Ukraine “to serve certain geopolitical agendas”, without specifying who he was referring to.
He repeated China’s calls that it wants dialogue to end the war.
China last year said it has a “borderless” partnership with Russia, weeks before launching its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has blamed NATO expansion for fueling the war, echoing Russia’s complaints.