Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned Tuesday that Beijing and Washington are headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the U.S. doesn’t change course, striking a combative tone at a moment when relations between the rivals are at a historic low.
In his first news conference since taking office late last year, Qin’s harsh language appeared to defy predictions that China might abandon its aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy in favor of more moderate rhetoric as the two countries face off over trade and technology, Taiwan, human rights and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Washington’s China policy has “entirely deviated from the rational and sound track,” Qin told journalists on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, when leaders lay out their economic and political priorities for the coming year.
“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,” said Qin, whose new position is junior to the Communist Party’s senior foreign policy official, Wang Yi. “Such competition is a reckless gamble, with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity.”
Qin’s comments echoed remarks made by leader Xi Jinping in a speech Monday to legislators.
“Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented grave challenges to our nation’s development,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.
In the face of that, China must “remain calm, maintain concentration, strive for progress while maintaining stability, take active actions, unite as one, and dare to fight,” he said.
Asked about Qin’s and Xi’s comments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that U.S. policy on China has remained consistent.
“There is no change to the United States’ posture when it comes to this bilateral relationship,” Kirby said. “The president believes those tensions obviously have to be recognized, but can be worked through. And we again seek competition not conflict.”
U.S. officials have grown increasingly worried about China’s expansive political and economic goals and the possibility of war over Taiwan — and many in Washington have called for the U.S. to make a bigger effort to counter Chinese influence abroad.