Beijing reacts cautiously to US Secretary of State nominee Blinken’s tough talk on China

K J M Varma
·2-min read

Beijing, Jan 20 (PTI) China on Wednesday reacted guardedly to the tough posture struck by US President-elect Joe Biden’s Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken who identified the rising and assertive Beijing as a major national security threat to America, saying it will strive to avoid conflict and confrontation with Washington.

As the curtain came down on the Trump administration, China heaved a sigh of relief, hoping that the most torrid period in Beijing-Washington ties will have some cooling period.

President Donald Trump’s four years in power were regarded as the worst phase in China-US relations as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by President Xi Jinping struggled to deal with what China’s officials say is the most elusive and unpredictable American leader ever.

During his tenure, Trump, a Republican, pushed aggressively on all aspects of US-China ties, including with his relentless trade war, challenging China’s military hold on the disputed South China Sea, its constant threats to Taiwan and branding coronavirus as “China virus” after it emerged from Wuhan in December 2019 as well as Xinjiang and Tibet issues.

Blinken, who is set to succeed tough-talking US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has identified China as a major national security threat to the US, saying America needs to approach the challenge from a 'position of strength, not weakness”.

Reacting to Blinken’s comments made at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here on Wednesday that China is committed to avoiding conflict and confrontation and will try to pursue mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

'At the same time, China will resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests,' Hua said, urging the US to meet China halfway to engage in dialogue to manage their differences.

Rejecting Pompeo’s allegations of China committing genocide against Uygur Muslims of Xinjiang as lies, Hua said “we will seek a mutual beneficial cooperation but will firmly uphold our own interests and safety. We firmly reject US slander against China.” “We hope the US side will view the China-US ties in the right manner. We hope they can work with China to bring our bilateral relations to the right track and move forward our ties. This is in line with our common interests and aspirations of the international community,” she said.

State-run Global Times quoted a survey conducted last month which projected positive expectations among the Chinese public over Biden’s presidency.

The survey said 31.7 per cent people said that they believe Biden, a Democrat, will bring certain opportunities to ease China-US tensions.

However, 28.5 per cent sounded pessimistic about the new US administration, and 39.8 per cent found the situation unclear. PTI KJV CPS AKJ CPS