Xi blasts US ‘containment, encirclement’ of China, Foreign Ministry slams ‘hysterical neo-McCarthyism’

Ben Norton, Geopolitical Economy, March 7, 2023 — President Xi Jinping denounced the US-led Western attempt to “contain, encircle, and suppress China”. Foreign Minister Qin Gang condemned Washington’s “hysterical neo-McCarthyism” and “malicious confrontation”, opposing the “cold war mentality.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has denounced the US-led Western attempt to “contain, encircle, and suppress China”.

Foreign Minister Qin Gang likewise warned that the US government is pursuing a “hysterical neo-McCarthyism”, and that its “so-called ‘competition’ means to contain and suppress China in all respects and get the two countries locked in a zero-sum game”.

Chinese political leaders are often very cautious and diplomatic with their language, and they frequently caution against the United States’ “cold war mentality”.

These assertive comments show that Beijing is standing up for itself and pushing back as Washington wages an increasingly aggressive new cold war.

“Western countries headed by the United States have contained, encircled and suppressed China in an all-round way, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to China’s development”, Xi said in a speech on March 7, reported by state media outlet Xinhua.

Acknowledging the growing geopolitical tensions, Xi said China is “faced with high winds and choppy waters in the international environment”. He added that “the external environment for China’s development has changed drastically, with uncertainties and unexpected factors increasing remarkably”.

The Wall Street Journal noted that “Xi’s comments marked an unusual departure for a leader who has generally refrained from directly criticizing the U.S. in public remarks—even as his decadelong leadership has demonstrated a pessimistic view of the bilateral relationship”.

“Xi has typically been more measured and vague regarding the U.S. and other Western countries, referring to them as “certain” countries rather than naming them explicitly”, the newspaper added.

John Pang, a former Malaysian government official who frequently writes for Chinese media outlets, noted that, “Unlike western politicians, Chinese leaders err on the side of understatement and indirectness when discussing external threats, nor are they fond of using it to justify policy. I can’t recall his ever having put this so directly”.

Despite these challenges, President Xi noted that his country has continued progressing: “China’s GDP registered an annual growth rate of 5.2 percent over the past five years. We won the critical battle against poverty as scheduled and finished building a moderately prosperous society in all respects”.

Xi also reiterated his commitment to “common prosperity for all Chinese people“.

In separate remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “The US claim to ‘shape the strategic environment in which China operates’ actually reveals the real purpose of its Indo-Pacific Strategy, that is to encircle China”.

She was referencing remarks made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who announced this containment policy in a May 2022 speech.

Hua affirmed, “Asia should be a stage for win-win cooperation rather than a chessboard for geopolitical contest. No Cold War should be reignited, and no Ukraine-style crisis should be repeated in Asia”.

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang says US seeks ‘to contain and suppress China in all respects’

China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang gave a press conference on March 7 in which he made similar remarks.

He referenced the manufactured crisis in February, in which the US military shot down a Chinese balloon that its own experts admitted had likely been blown off course due to the weather.

Qin said this balloon entering US airspace was “entirely an accident caused by force majeure”. He noted, “Even the United States did not believe it posed a physical threat”.

“However, in violation of the spirit of international law and international customary practices, the United States acted with a presumption of guilt”, Qin added. “It overreacted, abused force, and dramatized the accident, creating a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided”.

Noting that Washington “regards China as its primary rival and biggest geopolitical challenge”, the foreign minister argued that “the US perception and views of China are seriously distorted”.

He stated (emphasis added):

The United States claims that it seeks to “out-compete” China but does not seek conflict. Yet in reality, its so-called “competition” means to contain and suppress China in all respects and get the two countries locked in a zero-sum game.

The United States talks a lot about following rules. But imagine two athletes competing in an Olympic race. If one athlete, instead of focusing on giving one’s best, always tries to trip or even injure the other, that is not fair competition, but malicious confrontation and a foul!

Its so-called “establishing guardrails” for China-US relations and “not seeking conflict” actually means that China should not respond in words or action when slandered or attacked. That is just impossible!

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 will surely be conflict and confrontation. Who will bear the catastrophic consequences?

Such competition is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity. Naturally China is firmly opposed to all this.

If the United States has the ambition to make itself great again, it should also have a broad mind for the development of other countries. Containment and suppression will not make America great, and it will not stop the rejuvenation of China.

The Chinese foreign minister was careful to distinguish the people of the United States from the government.

“More and more people with vision and insight in the United States are deeply worried about the current state of China-US relations, and have been calling for a rational and pragmatic policy toward China”, he said.

Qin previously served as China’s ambassador to the United States from 2021 to 2023.

He affectionately recalled the time he spent working in the US and the friends he made.

“The American people, just like the Chinese people, are friendly, kind and sincere, and want a better life and a better world”, he stressed.

Qin concluded (emphasis added):

I’m convinced that the China-US relationship should be determined by the common interests and shared responsibilities of the two countries and by the friendship between the Chinese and American peoples, rather than by US domestic politics or the hysterical neo-McCarthyism.

China will continue to follow the principles put forth by President Xi Jinping, namely, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, to pursue a sound and stable relationship with the United States.

We hope the US government will listen to the calls of the two peoples, rid of its strategic anxiety of “threat inflation”, abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality.

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