China’s man in Washington says US building ‘Berlin Wall’ against Beijing

06-Dec-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China’s top envoy to the United States has struck out at Washington’s hardline measures against Beijing, accusing US officials of building a “Berlin Wall” between the two sides.

Speaking at the US-China Business Council’s annual gala in Washington on Wednesday, ambassador Cui Tiankai said “obstinate prejudice” was behind criticism directed at the Chinese government for its policies on trade and investment, Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

His speech came hot on the heels of US legislation aimed at sanctioning Chinese government officials over perceived human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and amid confusion over whether talks aimed at resolving the 16-month trade war were continuing.

“We must be alert that some destructive forces are taking advantage of the ongoing trade frictions,” Cui told a crowd of about 500 people, including former US trade representatives Carla Hills and Robert Zoellick.

China’s ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai accused Washington officials of trying to build a “Berlin Wall” between Washington and Beijing.(Reuters)

China’s ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai accused Washington officials of trying to build a “Berlin Wall” between Washington and Beijing.(Reuters)

“Extreme ideas such as decoupling, a new cold war, a clash of civilisations are having their way here,” he said.

“Some people in this country are pointing fingers at the governing party and the national system of China, trying to rebuild the Berlin Wall between China and the US in the economic, technological and ideological fields.”

Last week, US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, after the legislation passed both chambers of Congress with only one lawmaker among more than 500 objecting.

The law will, among other mandates, allow Washington to suspend Hong Kong’s special trading status based on an annual certification by the US state department about whether the city retains a sufficient degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted 407 to one to approve the Uygur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act of 2019, which commands the US administration to identify and sanction officials deemed responsible for their involvement in the mass internment of members of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.

Pressure on Beijing to allow international monitors into the internment camps has escalated since news outlets in November published reports based on the so-called China cables a leak of classified documents that indicate the camps were set up as forced indoctrination centres.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council in July released a statement calling for an end to what it called “arbitrary detention” of Uygurs and other Muslim groups in the region.

While reproaching China for “forging a role model for dystopian societies of intrusive technologies and reeducation camps”, Zoellick also criticised efforts by US policymakers to reduce Washington’s China policy to disengagement and punishment. He also took the Trump administration to task for trying to undercut the authority of the World Trade Organisation.

“We need to be clear-eyed about the real strategic challenges that China presents and disciplined not to distract with blanket blasts that will likely lead to misjudgments and mistakes,” he said.

“We need to compete with China within international institutions and country by country, because it’s hard to beat something with nothing. We need to compete with China by promoting better ideas and practices and through attractive partnerships instead of by retreating and bullying.”

Zoellick championed China’s accession to the WTO, which happened in 2001 when he was US trade representative under then president George W. Bush.

“Their participation in the WTO will be a boost for us and them,” he said at the time.

 


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