The Chronicle Herald (Provincial)

Chinese diplomat accuses U.S. of creating ‘imaginary enemy’


BEIJING - A top Chinese diplomat took a confrontat­ional tone on Monday in rare highlevel talks with the United States, accusing it of creating an “imaginary enemy” to divert attention from domestic problems and suppress China.

Amid worsening relations between the world’s two largest economies, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat, arrived on Sunday for face-to-face meetings in the northern city of Tianjin that the U.S. State Department described as “frank and open”.

No specific outcomes were agreed and the prospect of a

meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping was not discussed, senior U.S. administra­tion officials said following talks that lasted about four hours.

China seized the early narrative, with state media reporting on confrontat­ional remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng soon after the session began, in echoes of a similarly combative opening by senior Chinese officials during high-level talks in March in Alaska.

Foreign media were kept at a distance from the site of the talks, held outside of Beijing due to COVID-19 protocols, but Chinese media were permitted on the premises.

“The United States wants to reignite the sense of national purpose by establishi­ng China as an ‘imaginary enemy’,” Xie was quoted as saying while the talks were underway.

The United States had mobilised its government and society to suppress China, he added.

“As if once China’s developmen­t is suppressed, U.S. domestic and external problems will be resolved, and America will be great again, and America’s hegemony can be continued.”

Sherman laid out U.S. concerns over China’s actions on issues ranging from Hong Kong and Xinjiang to Tibet and cyber attacks, senior administra­tion officials said, adding that China should not

approach areas of global concern, such as climate and Afghanista­n, on a transactio­nal basis.

Sherman, who also met with State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, raised concerns including over what Washington sees as China’s unwillingn­ess to cooperate with the World Health Organizati­on on a

second phase investigat­ion of the origins of COVID-19, and foreign media access in China.

“The Deputy Secretary raised concerns in private – as we have in public – about a range of PRC actions that run counter to our values and interests and those of our allies and partners, and that undermine the internatio­nal rules-based order,” the State

Department said in a statement.

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