Wednesday, April 14, 2021

China warns Biden not to meddle in Hong Kong and Xinjiang

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Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, warned the United States not to interfere in Hong Kong and Xinjiang after senior officials in the Biden administration criticized Beijing’s policies in the two regions.

In the first speech by a Chinese official to an American audience since President Joe Biden took office, Mr. Yang accused Donald Trump of the dismal state of U.S.-China relations and told Biden not to meddle in Chinese affairs.

“The United States should stop interfering Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, all of which are important to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, ”he told the National Committee on US-China Relations, a US-based nonprofit organization.

The comments come after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the Chinese government’s crackdown on more than one million Muslim Uyghurs being held in Xinjiang Province as “genocide,” adopting the same rhetoric as the Trump administration.

Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, said on Friday that one of the main elements of the Biden administration’s policy towards China would be criticism of his Human rights abuse.

Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Biden was “ready to act. . . to impose costs for what China does in Xinjiang, what it does in Hong Kong [and] for the warmongering of the threats it projects towards Taiwan ”.

He made the comments a week after Chinese fighter jets and bombers entered the Taiwan air defense zone and simulated attacks on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Mr. Yang said US-China relations have reached a “key moment” after four years of “misguided policies” by the Trump administration. “There have also been attempts at decoupling and a so-called new cold war,” he added. “Such measures going against the current trend have severely damaged Sino-US relations.”

Referring to another policy of the Trump administration, Yang said the two countries must “work in the same direction” which, he added, would require the United States to “eliminate barriers to person-to-person exchanges, such as harassment of Chinese students. [and] restrict the Chinese media ”.

In his speech, Mr. Yang blamed the deterioration of relationships squarely in the United States and made no mention of China’s activities in Xinjiang or its crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

A longtime China observer in the United States said the speech was “classic Yang: highly doctrinaire, uninviting and totally unconvincing.”

Mr Biden is expected to take a much more structured approach to policymaking than the Trump administration, which may be welcomed in Beijing. But early signs from Mr Biden’s team suggest he will adopt a more hawkish position to China only when he was vice president of the Obama administration.

The US president is also facing Congress, where there is a strong bipartisan consensus for the United States to take a tougher line on China, especially on human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, and Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, last week introduced a bill that would prevent US companies from importing products made from Uyghur forced labor in Xinjiang. The bill received broad support, including from Jim Risch, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

To follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter



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