Published 07/03/2023 16:16 | Edited 3/7/2023 6:24 PM
China’s newly appointed foreign minister Qin Gang told a news conference on Tuesday that the United States and China are heading for a conflict if the United States does not “put on the brakes” on its aggressive position with Beijing.
The press conference, held parallel to the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, lasted nearly two hours in which the Chinese government representative answered questions sent in advance. Until recently, he was China’s ambassador to the United States. The legislative event where he was named and spoke to the press is one of the most important of the year for the Chinese government.
Chancellor Qin declared that the United States must change its “distorted” attitude towards the Asian region or there will be “conflict and confrontation”.
“If the United States does not step on the brakes and continues to accelerate on the wrong path, no barriers can prevent the derailment, which will bring conflict and confrontation, which will have catastrophic consequences,” he declared at a press conference.
Relations between the two superpowers have been tense for years over a range of issues, including Taiwan, trade and, most recently, the war in Ukraine, but they worsened last month after the United States shot down a balloon off the US east coast that claims to be Chinese.
Qin said the balloon incident was proof that the US views China as its main adversary and that the US acts “with a presumption of guilt” towards China.
China claims the balloon was a science craft launched by a private company that had veered off course.
Gang stated that “US perceptions and views of China are seriously skewed. [Os norte-americanos] consider China as their main rival and the biggest geopolitical challenge”.
“The US says it seeks to compete with China, but it does not seek conflict. But in reality, the US’s so-called ‘competition’ is total containment and repression, a zero-sum game of life and death”, declares the Chancellor.
China-Europe relations never target third parties and are not dependent or subject to third parties, Qin said.
“No matter how the situation develops, China always regards Europe as a comprehensive strategic partner and supports European integration,” he said.
“China hopes that Europe will truly achieve strategic autonomy, as well as lasting security and stability,” he said.
The chancellor also stressed that China is willing to work with Europe to uphold true multilateralism and deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership.
ukraine and russia
Qin stressed that no Ukrainian-style crisis should be repeated in Asia. “No Cold War should be reignited and no Ukraine-style crisis should be repeated in Asia,” the minister said.
Throughout the interview, Qin said the close interactions between the two leaders – President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin – provided the foundation for China-Russia relations. He pointed to the relationship between the countries as a model that other countries could follow.
Qin defended the close friendship between China and Russia, a relationship closely watched by the West in light of the war in Ukraine. He said ties between Beijing and Moscow “set an example for global foreign relations”.
“Relations between Russia and China are characterized by non-alignment with blocks, absence of confrontation and are not directed against third parties,” Qin said, apparently referring to NATO, which was created to fight the Soviet Union during the Cold War. “[A relação entre a China e a Rússia] does not pose a threat to any country in the world.”
“With China and Russia working together, the world will have a driving force. The more unstable the world becomes, the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily move forward in their relations,” Qin said.
There is “close contact” between the two countries’ leadership, he added, with “head of state” relations forming the anchor of the relationship.
China, Russia and other countries have begun to speak in recent years of a “multipolar” world that would no longer be subject to the whims of US hegemony. “The strategic partnership … will certainly grow from strength to strength,” said Qin.
Qin also declared that an “invisible hand” was pushing for the escalation of the war in Ukraine “to serve certain geopolitical agendas”, without specifying who he was referring to.
On sanctions, Qin questioned why his country was being threatened with trade and financial restrictions by the West, even though it had not supplied arms to either side of the conflict in Ukraine.
Qin also said sanctions against Russia were unlikely to solve the problem and said dialogue to end the conflict should start as soon as possible. Earlier this month, China proposed a plan to start peace talks in Ukraine, but it was outright rejected by Ukraine and its Western allies.
The next day, alleged reports were leaked by the US intelligence agency, accusing China of “considering” sending weapons to Russia. US officials stirred up their press by threatening that any such shipment would be punished. The US has provided no evidence that China is considering sending weapons to Russia.
According to the minister, China needs to expand relations with Russia as the world becomes more turbulent and the close interactions between the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, anchored the relations of the neighbors.
He did not respond when asked if Xi Jinping would visit Russia after China’s parliament session, which lasts another week.
Since Russia invaded its southwestern neighbor a year ago, China’s president has spoken several times with Putin, but not with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.
Asked whether it is possible for China and Russia to abandon the dollar and euro for bilateral trade, the minister said that countries should use any currency that is efficient, safe and reliable.
China has been looking to internationalize its renminbi, or yuan, which gained popularity in Russia last year after Western sanctions shut Russian banks and many of its businesses outside dollar and euro payment systems.
“Currencies should not be the trump card for unilateral sanctions, let alone a cover for intimidation or coercion,” Qin said.