China’s top diplomat yesterday warned the US not to cross the country’s “red line,” in a pointed speech that pushed back against early moves by US President Joe Biden to press Beijing on human rights.
Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), a politburo member and head of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign affairs office, said in a video address to the New York-based National Committee on US-China Relations that the two sides “stand at a key moment” to rebuild ties and cooperate after Biden’s inauguration.
However, he placed the onus on Washington to repair the damage caused by the “misguided policies” of former US president Donald Trump.
“We in China hope that the United States will rise above the outdated mentality of zero-sum, major-power rivalry and work with China to keep the relationship on the right track,” Yang said, a former minister of foreign affairs.
Yang urged the US to stop “harassing Chinese students, restricting Chinese media outlets, shutting down Confucius Institutes and suppressing Chinese companies,” and said that Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang affairs were a “red line that must not be crossed.”
“China and the United States are two large countries with different histories, cultures and systems, and thus have differences on some issues. It is crucial to properly control them and not allow them to interfere with the overall development of bilateral relations,” he said.
The US should fulfill its commitments to Beijing, “abide by the one China principle, and effectively respect China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan issue,” he added.
The speech represented Beijing’s most high-profile appeal to an American audience since Biden took power on Jan. 20. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was among the last world leaders to congratulate Biden on his election victory over Trump in November, and the two men have yet to speak after the inauguration.
The Biden administration has signaled a desire to maintain the pressure on China from trade and human rights. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an appearance on MSNBC on Monday that the US should give “haven” to people fleeing political repression in Hong Kong.
He had previously said that China’s policies toward its Muslim minority in Xinjiang amounted to genocide.
Additional reporting by AP
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