China’s new foreign minister on Tuesday warned Beijing and Washington are headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the US doesn’t change course on its military buildup in the Asia Pacific and other policies aimed at China.
“If the United States does not hit the brake, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there surely will be conflict and confrontation,” Foreign Minister Qin Gang told reporters.
“Who will bear the catastrophic consequences? Such competition is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity,” he added.
Qin’s comments came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping offered rare direct criticism of the US in a speech. “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development,” Xi said.
Qin echoed Xi’s comments when he discussed the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which calls for the US to build up its military and diplomatic presence in the region to counter China. He said the strategy is “an attempt to gang up to form exclusive blocs, to provoke confrontation by plotting an Asia-Pacific version of NATO, and to undermine regional integration through decoupling and cutting chains.”
He warned US efforts to build alliances in the region could lead to a conflict similar to the war in Ukraine. “No Cold War should be reignited, and no Ukraine-style crisis should be repeated in Asia,” Qin said.
In his new post, Qin is junior to Wang Yi, the Communist Party’s top foreign policy official, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s counterpart. But Qin is still in a very influential position and took his post after serving as the Chinese ambassador in Washington.
During his time in the US, Qin also warned of a conflict between the US and China due to the US taking steps to increase cooperation with Taiwan. But he also brought a message of good relations and stressed on Tuesday that Beijing wants to get on a better track with Washington.
“China will continue to follow the principles put forth by President Xi Jinping, namely, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, to pursue a sound and stable relationship with the United States. We hope the US government will listen to the calls of the two peoples,” Qin said.
Regarding Taiwan, Qin said the issue is the first “red line that must never be crossed,” repeating something Xi told President Biden when they met in Indonesia in November. The US has not heeded the Chinese warning and continues to take steps to increase military and political support for Taiwan even though Beijing is responding by increasing military pressure on the island.
Overall, the Biden administration has shown little interest in cooling tensions with China and frames its engagement with Chinese officials as a “managing of competition” rather than an effort to resolve issues.