Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday (6) that the US must “step on the brakes” to avoid a scenario of “conflict and confrontation”. The speech takes place at a time of tension in the relationship between the two powers, with mutual accusations of espionage and sanctions.

“If the United States does not put on the brakes and continues on the wrong track, no guardrails will be enough to prevent the train from derailing and crashing, and there will certainly be conflict and confrontation,” Qin said.

The chancellor’s speech was accompanied by a similar message from the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, during a legislative session. “Western countries, led by the US, have implemented complete containment and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to the country’s development,” Xi said on Monday (6), according to the Xinhua news agency.

The United States applies sanctions to try to curb Chinese technological development and has different views on the war in Ukraine and the situation in Taiwan. In late 2022, Xi and US President Joe Biden met during the G20 summit in Indonesia, but the rapprochement turned sour more recently after a US Secretary of State trip to Beijing was canceled. Anthony Blinken accused the Chinese of using balloons to spy on the US, a charge that China rebuts.

The Chinese foreign minister said that the balloon episode indicates that the US perception of China is “seriously distorted” and that the White House is betting on a policy “live or die, a zero-sum game”. Qin also denied the US accusation that China was planning to supply weapons to Russia in its war with Ukraine, accusing the US of trying to escalate the conflict to support “a certain geopolitical agenda”.

“Unfortunately, efforts to promote peace and negotiations have been repeatedly hampered. It seems that there is an ‘invisible hand’ that is prolonging and intensifying the conflict, trying to use the Ukraine crisis to serve some kind of geopolitical conspiracy,” he said.

Qin was ambassador to the US before taking over as chancellor. In an article published in the newspaper Washington Post upon leaving office, he stated: “My time here [como embaixador] it also reminds me that China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game in which one side outperforms the other or one nation prospers at the expense of the other. The world is big enough for China and the United States to develop and prosper. The successes of our two countries are shared opportunities, not winner-take-all challenges.”

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


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