China Top Diplomat Warns Biden Not To Cross “Red Line” Of Interests
In a much anticipated speech which marked the first time China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, addressed an American audience under the new administration at the New York based National Committee on US-China Relations, the top Communist Party official warned the US it must stop interfering Beijing’s “core interests” in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet affairs or else it risks crossing China’s “red line”.
Ostensibly a gesture signaling China wants cooperation with the US under Biden, Yang as director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission and member of the powerful 25-member Politburo, urged that Biden abandon Trump’s “misguided policies against China” which has plunged the relationship into its “most difficult period since the establishment of diplomatic ties”.
In the remote video address Yang laid out, “We believe that peace and development are still the prevailing trend of the times, and that peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation remain the shared aspiration of all peoples,” according to Bloomberg.
Listing a number of flashpoints where already since his Jan.20 inauguration President Biden has eyed pressuring Beijing over human rights issues and anti-democracy crackdown, most notably Hong Kong and the Uighur persecution in northwest Xinjiang province (and of course Taiwan continues to loom large), Yang said forcefully:
“They constitute a red line that must not be crossed. Any trespassing would end up undermining China-U.S. relations, and the United States’s own interests.”
“We in China hope that the United States will rise above the outdated mentality of zero-sum, major-power rivalry and work with China to keep the relationship on the right track,” he added.
Yang then spelled out the specific pressing grievances, which include “harassing Chinese students, restricting Chinese media outlets, shutting down Confucius Institutes and suppressing Chinese companies,” according to the speech – all of which were significant Trump policies and escalations of the last year of his administration.
Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi, just finished lecturing US in @NCUSCR speech (w/ bad audio). He lambasted Trump, said US shouldn’t block China’s dvlpt or interfere in its domestic affairs. Bottom line: Beijing is ready cooperate only on China’s terms.https://t.co/jfmry0ir8b pic.twitter.com/INuiUNcROr
— Scott Kennedy (@KennedyCSIS) February 2, 2021
“These issues concern China’s core interests, national dignity, as well as the sensitivities of its 1.4 billion people,” Yang emphasized in the video address. “They constitute a red line which must not be crossed.”
The firm “warning” comes after newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused some of his first official statements last week on China’s egregious human rights record.
“We’ve seen China act egregiously to undermine the very commitments it made during the handover of Hong Kong,” Blinken said.
Blinken had also last week affirmed his unwavering support for “standing up for our values when China is challenging them, including in Xinjiang against the Uighurs.” All of this also comes as tensions are soaring around Taiwan in the South China Sea, with both US and Chinese vessels and warplanes conducting show of strength exercises there.
As The Wall Street Journal has underscored, there’s been a number of such speeches by Chinese government officials in the past days aimed at reaching American leaders, which lay out a vision for improved Sino-US relations, but squarely on Beijing’s terms:
Vice Premier Wang Qishan told business leaders in the U.S. last week that China seeks a relationship of mutual respect and devoid of conflict and confrontation, according to a summary of the private meeting in the state-run China Daily. An American who joined the video meeting said Mr. Wang was uncompromising in describing China’s governance model as correct.
Mr. Wang’s message, this person said, was effectively: “Here are the rules of the road.”
So far it doesn’t look like the Biden administration looks to play by these rules, given the latest words out of the White House in no way appear the kind of departure from the prior Trump/Pompeo hardline tone that China was hoping for…
. @JoeBiden starts out hawkish on China. @jakejsullivan says US prepared to take action over Xinjiang, Hong Kong & Taiwan. @SecBlinken calls repression of Uighurs “genocide”. https://t.co/u820ZXlvdA pic.twitter.com/eanjqfwVKn
— Demetri Sevastopulo (@Dimi) January 31, 2021
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Here’s a brief overview of the 25-minute address as provided by Bloomberg:
• Trump policies have severely damaged U.S.-China ties, Yang says in a virtual speech to the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
• U.S.-China relations stand at key moment, both must restore ties to predictable, constructive track
• Case for greater China-U.S. cooperation is strong, Yang says
• China prepared to work with U.S. to move ties forward: Yang
• China will continue to defend sovereignty, security
• It’s wrong to view China as strategic competitor, Yang says
• U.S. politicians must not use COVID to stigmatize China: Yang
• U.S. should stop abusing national security, should increase international cooperation
Watch the full virtual address below, which took place Tuesday (Beijing time):
Tue, 02/02/2021 – 22:20