The spy chief of outgoing US President Donald Trump has labelled China the biggest threat to democracy and freedom since World War II, as Chinese state media warned some damage to Sino-US ties was “beyond repair”.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that China was bent on global domination.
“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” he warned.
In a potentially incendiary allegation, Ratcliffe also said China’s economic espionage approach was threefold: “Rob, Replicate and Replace”.
The Chinese embassy in the US said the spy chief’s article was “fact-distorting” and showed “an entrenched Cold War mindset”. It also claimed the US government and companies were involved in cyber-theft.
Ratcliffe’s comments came as Chinese state media questioned the state of relations between the two countries, which have sunk to their lowest point in decades over issues such as trade, human rights, Hong Kong and COVID-19.
The government-backed newspaper China Daily said in an editorial it viewed Washington’s decision this week to limit visitor visas for Chinese Communist Party members and their families and a ban on Xinjiang cotton imports as “worrisome signs”.
“Even if the incoming administration has any intention of easing the tensions that have been sown, and continue being sown, some damage is simply beyond repair, as the sitting US president intends,” the newspaper said.
Bilateral ties are being shifted onto “a dangerous path”, it added.
Meanwhile, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, appeared to signal a desire to reset the increasingly confrontational relationship as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January.
“There are always differences between the two countries. None of them justifies confrontation and war, cold or hot,” Cui said on Twitter on Thursday.
“With sufficient mutual respect and mutual understanding, we are capable of managing these differences so that they would not derail the entire relationship.”
It is unclear whether a Biden administration will bring a dramatic shift, however.
The Democrat told the New York Times this week that he would not remove existing tariffs set by the Trump administration against China for now.
In response, another state-owned Chinese publication, the Global Times, reminded the incoming president to be “fully aware of the devastating effect of the tariffs on the US economy”.
“Still, it is imperative to remind all that the tariffs have been ruled illegal by the WTO, and have been widely deemed to have cost the US more than [it has] gained.”
Legislation targeting China or Chinese officials for charges of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and a crackdown against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have also won broad bipartisan support in the US Congress, as well, further suggesting that the current tenor of US policy towards China will remain.
Post-pandemic world would not be stable and global governance would not be effective without sound&stable relations between China and the US. We have to have a shared vision for the future, make the right choice and keep the relations on a constructive track towards agreed goals.
— Cui Tiankai (@AmbCuiTiankai) December 4, 2020
Chen, you’re a puppet in Xi Jinping’s delusional China dream for global domination. From Tiananmen Square to Uyghur genocide, Communist China is an expert at slaughtering populations. America will not bow down to sexist communist thugs. https://t.co/PrRyTlpnFc
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) December 3, 2020
An exchange of insults on Thursday between US Senator Marsha Blackburn and China Daily journalist Chen Weihua – underscored some of the animosity simmering beneath the surface.
Blackburn, a Republican and one of the more outspoken China critics, claimed without evidence on Twitter that China had “a 5,000 year history of cheating and stealing”.
Chen replied to her tweet, accusing Blackburn of being the most “racist and ignorant” US senator he has seen and calling her a “b**ch.” The Global Times editor-in-chief also waded into the social media exchange writing that the senator’s “cognitive level was as low as a monkey’s”.
When the Chinese were forming civilization, fighting against cheating and stealing, the ancestors of the Americans had not completely got rid of the nature of monkeys. The US is modernized today, but the pity is why this senator’s cognitive level is still as low as a monkey’s. https://t.co/NtCE8bj5RY
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) December 4, 2020