BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – China’s foreign minister expounded Beijing’s increasingly defiant stance on the international stage, taking several swipes at the US and underscoring much of the sentiment from last week’s centennial celebrations speech by President Xi Jinping.
In a sweeping speech that touched on topics from the global pandemic to counterterrorism, North Korea to the Iran nuclear issue and Taiwan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi showcased China’s rising confidence and assertiveness in global affairs, while criticising the US and its allies for grasping to an outdated Cold War mentality.
“Today’s China is no longer the same country of 100 years ago,” Mr Wang said in Beijing on Saturday (July 3).
“No individual or force should underestimate the determination and capacity of the Chinese people to uphold the country’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.”
Mr Wang was speaking at the World Peace Forum organised by Tsinghua University and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, a government-run policy group.
Relations between Beijing and Washington have remained strained under US President Joe Biden, despite some expectations they would improve once Donald Trump left office.
Mr Biden has been slow to remove the tariffs Trump put in place on Chinese goods as the administration evaluates a new set of policies.
On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the nation’s adversaries to avoid opposing his government, saying in a speech marking the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary that China can no longer be “bullied and abused.”
Anyone trying to do that “will surely break their heads on the steel Great Wall built with the blood and flesh of 1.4 billion of Chinese people,” he said.
The first face-to-face talks between China and the US back in March descended into bickering between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Yang Jiechi, a member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo.
Washington and Beijing were reportedly discussing a meeting between Mr Blinken and Mr Wang at a during a recent Group of 20 event in Italy, but that never happened.
The US was exploring the possibility of a telephone call between Mr Biden and Mr Xi, according to the Financial Times said, but no progress has been reported.
Mr Wang criticised Washington across a range of issues.
On Afghanistan, he said the US had created the Afghan issue in the first place. “It should not simply shift the burden on to others and withdraw from the country with the mess left behind unattended,” he said.
The US also needed to reconsider its incessant military threats and pressure on North Korea over the decades and “acknowledge and address Pyongyang’s legitimate concerns,” Mr Wang said.
On the Iranian nuclear issue, Mr Wang said it is most critical for the US to make an earlier decision to rejoin the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“The US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and its maximum pressure on Iran are the root causes of the current Iranian nuclear crisis,” said Mr Wang.
“As the saying, goes, he who tied the bow should untie it.” Mr Wang said the world must categorically oppose “bloc” confrontation, citing US efforts in the Indo-Pacific region as an example.
“It is the revival of the Cold War mentality and regression of history. It should be swept into the dustbin.”
“Dreaming the old dream of hegemony during the Cold War will not secure a promising future, still less build back a better world,” said Mr Wang.
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