From the South China Sea to the Middle East, the US fails to live up to promises, China says

  • Chinese foreign minister accuses Washington of stoking tensions around Beijing’s core interests
  • America’s Asia-Pacific alliances are a disaster for regional peace and stability, he says

China has accused Washington of failing to live up to its promise to not pursue confrontation with Beijing or provoke divisions in other parts of the world.

Launching the broadside at his annual press conference on the sidelines of China’s legislative session on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said no places should be regarded as US backyards and the world was not a geopolitical chessboard.
He said the United States had not lived up to commitments from US officials that Washington was not seeking a new Cold War nor to change China’s governance model.

“The US still spares no effort to carry out ‘intense competition’ against China in a zero-sum game, constantly attacking and provoking trouble on issues concerning China’s core interests, and successively cobbling together a ‘small circle’ to suppress China in the international arena,” he said.

“This is not what a responsible big country should be like, nor is it what a country with credibility does. As a sovereign and independent country, China has every right to take necessary measures to firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests.”

Tensions between China and the US have widened over the past months, with Washington pressing Beijing to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and the US strengthening security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a trip to Australia last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s strategic ambition had expanded to a desire to be a leading military, economic, diplomatic and political power in the world.

And last week, a delegation of former top American military and security officials visited Taiwan, pledging that the US was committed to the island’s security. This prompted a rebuke from Beijing which regards the island as a breakaway province and opposes its independence.

For years, China and the US have locked horns over a wide range of issues, from trade to the South China Sea and alleged human rights violations.

The US is also intensifying its security alliance in the region, including signing a deal to help Australia establish a nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

Beijing is trying to offset this influence by expanding its relations with nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

In his annual press conference on Monday, Wang said the Middle East had suffered harm “time after time” over the decades as major powers sought to exert influence in the area, a situation that should not continue.

“China has always played a constructive role in the Middle East. We never seek any geopolitical self-interest, nor do we intend to fill the so-called power vacuum,” he said.

On Latin America, where Beijing has won over a number of Taiwan’s former diplomatic allies, Wang said the region should not be regarded as anyone’s “backyard”.

“What the Latin American people need is fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, not power politics and bullying,” he said.

The foreign minister also hit out at the US over what he called a bid to establish a Nato of the Asia-Pacific, which he said went against regional arrangements.

Wang said the US was “playing its geopolitical game” with exclusive clubs like the “Quad” and “Five Eyes” and its Indo-Pacific strategy.

The alliance system was “a disaster that disturbs regional peace and stability”, he said.
Wang admitted that negotiations with Asean on a code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea had been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but he said the bloc should resist external influence.

“Some external countries do not want to see the code of conduct concluded and do not want to see peace and tranquillity in the South China Sea because this will mean they will not have an excuse to intervene in the matter for their own personal gain,” Wang said. “Asean nations should be clear about that and resist external disturbance”.

Wang said China’s partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was the “paradigm” for regional cooperation. He said Beijing was committed to deepening efforts to tackle Covid-19 with Asean members and would boost research and development cooperation on vaccines and drugs.

“The Asia-Pacific region is not a chessboard for great power politics and Asean countries are not pawns in geopolitical confrontations,” he said.

Wang also blamed the US for the chaos in Afghanistan and the stalled progress over North Korean nuclear talks.

He said the sudden withdrawal of US troops had led to a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and the US should immediately unlock the country’s frozen assets to help its people.

He said negotiations on the North Korea nuclear programme stalled because of lack of trust between Pyongyang and Washington, saying Washington had failed to show sincerity even though Pyongyang had made gestures to advance the talks.

He said the US should not use North Korea as a geopolitical bargaining chip and China was willing to play a constructive role in the nuclear talks.

Wang also cautioned Tokyo – which Beijing sees as moving closer to the US and Taiwan – about the need to improve relations with Beijing, calling on Japan to respect China’s interest on Taiwan.

“When the foundation is not good, the ground is shaking,” he said, adding that Japan should avoid causing disturbance in the relationship.

Wang said the US should seek cooperation and peaceful coexistence with China.

Author: Teddy Ng, SCMP

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