China warns US of rising ‘negative factors’ in bilateral ties

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China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has warned visiting US secretary of state Antony Blinken that “negative factors” are rising in the bilateral relationship, signalling Beijing’s growing impatience with Washington’s policies.

Speaking before closed-door talks with Blinken in Beijing on Friday, Wang said that while dialogue and co-operation between the US and China had increased in “various fields”, “on the other hand, negative factors in Sino-US relations are still rising and accumulating”.

“China’s legitimate right to development is being unreasonably repressed and China’s core interests are constantly challenged,” Wang said, reflecting concerns about US export controls on advanced technology and military support for Taiwan.

Blinken, who is expected to deliver a tough message about the war in Ukraine during his three-day trip to China, said he would be “very clear, very direct about the areas where we have differences” but added that it was “important to demonstrate that we’re managing responsibly the most consequential relationship”.

Though China’s rhetoric was less harsh than early last year, when the bilateral relationship was at decade lows, Beijing has taken a tougher tack in recent weeks as tensions have risen over issues including Ukraine, trade policy and the South China Sea.

“The international community is waiting to see whether the two sides will lead international co-operation to deal with global issues and achieve mutual and multiple wins, or whether they will confront each other or even break out into conflict, leading to losses for both of them and many others,” Wang said ahead of the talks.

Blinken was expected to tell Wang that the US would take action against Chinese companies that export technology to Russia that can be used for weapons in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Co-operation between the superpowers has advanced, especially on curbs on the sale of fentanyl precursors by Chinese companies, since a rapprochement in November, when US President Joe Biden met Xi Jinping in San Francisco, according to Chinese officials.

But frictions have also escalated in the South China Sea, which China claims almost in its entirety. Chinese vessels have been trying to prevent the Philippines from resupplying Marines on the Sierra Madre, a rusting ship grounded on the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The US has warned that its mutual defence treaty with the Philippines applies to the Sierra Madre, with Biden expressing “deep concern” over the issue during a phone call with Xi this month.

Additional reporting by Wenjie Ding in Beijing

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