China warns US to ‘hit the brakes’ to avoid potential ‘conflict and confrontation’


China has used the analogies of a traffic accident and Olympic athletes to warn the US in comments likely to strain relations between the countries further.

The Asian giant likened the US to a speeding vehicle that “no amount of guardrails” could stop from “derailment” if it did not “hit the brakes”.

Relations between the US and China have recently borne witness to a spike in tensions, in addition to being rocky for years now over several issues like trade, the claims over Taiwan, a “spy” balloon encroaching US airspace, trade and allyship in the continuing Ukraine invasion.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang warned the country in comments made on Tuesday at his first news conference on the sidelines of an annual parliament meeting after assuming responsibilities from the outgoing influential foreign minister Wang Yi.

He said the US had to shift its “distorted” attitude towards China or risk “conflict and confrontation”.

The new foreign minister accused the US  of engaging in suppression and containment of China instead of engaging in a fair and rule-based competition.

“If the United States does not hit the brakes, and continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailment, which will become conflict and confrontation, and who will bear the catastrophic consequences?” asked Mr Qin.

“The United States’s perception and views of China are seriously distorted,” he said.

A close ally of president Xi Jinping, Mr Qin said the US “regards China as its primary rival and the most consequential geopolitical challenge”.

“This is like the first button in the shirt being put wrong,” said the former Chinese ambassador to Washington.

Likening the US-China competition to a race between two Olympic athletes, the minister said: “If one side, instead of focusing on giving one’s best, always tries to trip the other up, even to the extent that they must enter the Paralympics, then this is not fair competition.”

US-China relations suffered a serious setback last month after the Biden administration ordered the shooting down of a balloon off the US east coast after terming it a “spy” craft sent by Beijing.

Washington maintains it is not looking to stoke conflict with China.

The Chinese foreign minister said that in practice, this means China is not supposed to respond with words or action when slandered or attacked.

“That is just impossible,” Mr Qin said.

Launching “wolf warrior diplomacy”, the minister acknowledged the abrasive attitude on display by Chinese diplomats since 2020.

“When jackals and wolves are blocking the way, and hungry wolves are attacking us, Chinese diplomats must then dance with the wolves and protect and defend our home and country,” he said.

Without directly mentioning the US, Mr Qin said an “invisible hand” was stoking escalation in the continuing war in Ukraine “to serve certain geopolitical agendas”.

But he added that China wished to see a dialogue route to end the war in Europe.

The US has accused China of looking at options to supply Russia with ammunition amid the invasion of Ukraine which Washington warned against.

Beijing vehemently denied the charges made by the US on considering supplying artillery to Russia, following which the officials in Washington said the information was made public to deter any plans by China.

China struck a “no limits” partnership with Russia last year, weeks before its invasion of Ukraine and blamed Nato expansion for triggering the war, echoing Russia’s complaint.

The foreign minister hailed China’s ties with Russia and said that the country had to advance its relations with Moscow amid increasing turbulence in the world.

Mr Qin did not confirm if Mr Xi would visit Russia as invited by Russian president Vladimir Putin after China’s parliament session.

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