Top Chinese Diplomat Says US ‘Too Negative’ Toward China Amid Rising Tensions

(Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
Font Size:

A top Chinese diplomat said Friday that the U.S. approach to China, including under the Biden administration, has been “too negative” and urged cooperation despite rising tensions between the two countries.

“Such an approach, I must say, is too negative,” said Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), adding that a confrontational attitude toward China lacks “a forward-looking spirit.” He also said China could partner with the U.S. to address COVID-19 and economic issues.

“To me it is hard to imagine the two priorities can be resolved without a cooperative and healthy China-U.S. relationship,” he said.

When asked about President Joe Biden’s invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders for a virtual climate summit on April 22, Le told the AP that China is interested in global cooperation on climate change but will respond to the issue on its own terms.

“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Le said of the Biden administration’s global climate goals. “Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”

His comments come as tensions between U.S. and China continue to rise over a range of issues, including human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, territorial expansion in the South China Sea and allegations that China influenced the World Health Organization in its assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic. (RELATED: Spy Chiefs Say They Don’t Know How Virus Started, But That China Has Not Been ‘Fully Transparent’)

Beijing likely expected an improvement in relations once Biden assumed office, according to the AP. But the administration has continued many of the hardline policies that were pursued under former President Donald Trump.

During a summit last month between American and Chinese officials in Alaska — the first such meeting under Biden — the U.S. side expressed “deep concerns” about China’s human rights violations, including the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its alleged genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang.

Le dismissed U.S. criticism of its actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. He told the AP that “Hong Kong belongs to China” and claimed U.S. sanctions over Xinjiang “have damaged human rights.”

Though he expressed optimism on particular issues like the global COVID-19 response and climate change, Le said cooperation must be on an equal basis and criticized the U.S. for putting pressure on China along multiple fronts.

“It is not one side drawing up a laundry list of demands to the other side,” he said. “In cooperation, one should not be selfish and care only about one’s own interests with no regard for the well-being of the other side.”