China warns US against ‘conflicts and confrontations with catastrophic consequences’

China warns US against ‘conflicts and confrontations with catastrophic consequences’

Beijing At his first press conference, China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, was almost amused when asked whether his appointment was a signal for softer diplomatic tones from Beijing. In his previous capacity as Ambassador to the USA the media would have dubbed him a “wolf warrior,” he emphasizes. Now his assumption of office should be an indication of a more compromising attitude. It quickly becomes clear that Qin in no way intends to strike softer tones.

He criticizes the USA remarkably sharply. If the United States “doesn’t step on the brakes, but continues to follow the wrong path,” “not even guardrails could stop a derailment,” he warned at the press conference on the occasion of the current People’s Congress, the annual session of China’s mock parliament. Then there was a certain threat of “conflicts and confrontations” with “catastrophic consequences”.

“Western countries, led by the United States, are pursuing an all-out containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which poses unprecedented serious challenges for China’s development,” the state news agency Xinhua quoted the head of state as saying.

Normally, the state leadership usually criticizes “certain countries” without naming the USA or the West directly. In the English version of the report, no mention was made of the names.

Xi Jinping

The Chinese head of state turned unusually openly against the United States.

(Photo: IMAGO/Xinhua)

The two appearances suggest the tone is getting rougher between China and the US. The bilateral relationship between the world powers is worse than it has been for decades.

Qin Gang: USA play unfair

In his first official press appearance, Qin Gang uses a sporting analogy to describe the relationship with the United States: if an athlete, instead of focusing on performance, is always trying to “outsmart or even hurt the other, then this is not a fair competition, but a malicious confrontation and foul play”.

Suppressing China will not make the US great again. He called for getting relations back on track. This is not an option, but a necessity.

Qin took over as foreign minister at the end of December. He succeeded Wang Yi, who rose to become the Communist Party’s chief diplomat and is above Qin in the hierarchy. In his remarks, Qin stressed that China is strengthening its ties with Russia in view of increasing global turbulence.

The close cooperation between Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin is the anchor for relations between the two countries. When asked if Xi would travel to Russia, he did not answer.

China’s new foreign minister is wooing Europeans – and blames the US for the Ukraine war

While Qin lashed out at the US at the press conference, he wooed the Europeans. China sees the EU as a “strategic partner,” he stressed.

He hopes that Europe will make its own decisions and learn from the pain of the war in Ukraine. The latter is being used by an “invisible hand” to “achieve certain geopolitical goals” – a barely concealed blame game on the US.

New Chinese foreign minister warns US

But despite courting for the EU, the order of the questions at the heavily staged press conference makes it clear which world regions currently have priority for Chinese foreign policy: The first question from a foreign media representative was a journalist from Egypt. Then a Russian journalist spoke, only towards the end a colleague from France was called. The questioners were handpicked and she had to submit her questions up to a month in advance.

In any case, the event and the preparation are remarkable. Few western journalists were even admitted. For the chosen ones, the prelude to the actual press conference begins the night before. Although head of state and party leader Xi Jinping recently declared the “great and decisive victory” over the corona pandemic, all participants have to spend one night in a designated quarantine hotel, including a PCR test. In the well-heated room there is a red carnation as a welcome.

Many press representatives from Africa and Russia

At dinner, each seat is separated with a plastic honeycomb to avoid contamination. There are a striking number of representatives from Africa who have come specifically for the People’s Congress. Russian is also spoken at several tables.

Early in the morning, four buses bring the journalists to the media center next to the military museum on the other side of town. The journey takes you past Tian’anmen Square, where around 3,000 members of the People’s Congress will be meeting until next Monday.

The access roads are completely or partially closed so that the delegates can get to their destination faster. Hundreds of police officers, dressed in neon yellow jackets with red warning lights, direct the traffic. Access to the People’s Congress is even more restricted for foreign journalists than the Foreign Minister’s press conference.

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