China‘s top diplomat, Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi, hit back at tough criticisms from the United States on Tuesday and urged a move away from confrontation between the two biggest global economies, saying they should respect each others’ interests and cooperate for their mutual benefit and for that of rest of the world.
Wang told an event in New York organised by the US-China Business Council that China hoped for a positive outcome from the next round of trade talks with the US due to take place in October.
But negotiations must be based on mutual respect and could not take place under threats, he said at the event held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Wang also said Beijing would respect US interests, but it would not be threatened on trade or allow interference in its affairs, including Hong Kong.
“We hope the US will be consistent in its words and actions, respect China’s sovereignty and respect the efforts of the Hong Kong … government to stop violence and restore order,” Wang said.
He rejected the views of those who believe Beijing is aiming to surpass the US as a strategic power, saying “seeking hegemony is not in our DNA” and said China was a developing country still far behind the US.
“China has no intention to play the game of thrones on the world stage. For now and for the foreseeable future, the US is and will still be the strongest country in the world,” Wang said.
However, he shot back at heightened US criticism of China’s treatment of its Muslim minority in the western region of Xinjiang, saying the actions Beijing had taken there were to prevent “extremism and terrorism”.
Trump had warned earlier on Tuesday that the world was watching how Beijing handles mass demonstrations in Hong Kong that have heightened fears of a potential Chinese crackdown. The US president also led 30 countries in condemning China for “horrific” repression against Muslims in the Western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Trump has sought to pressure China into reducing trade barriers by increasing US tariffs on Chinese products. He also accused China of stealing trade secrets and taking advantage of its status as a “developing economy” under World Trade Organization rules.
“Not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms, it has embraced an economic model dependent on significant market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on a grand scale,” Trump said on Tuesday at the UN.
The US-China trade war, which has dragged on for 14 months so far, last saw the US impose 10 percent tariffs on $300bn of Chinese imports which came into effect on September 1.
However, China on Tuesday announced new waivers on US pork and agricultural imports for its state-owned and private companies. This happened hours after the US said that it was allowing tariff-free imports of some Chinese parts in Apple Inc’s Mac Pro, in order for the computers to be manufactured and assembled in Austin, Texas.