NEW YORK - The Chinese ambassador to the US has warned Washington against “any strategy for confrontation” with Beijing, which he said is based on a “paranoid” fear of China’s rising power.
Ambassador Cui Tiankai made the remarks at an embassy reception for the Lunar New Year, adding that it is “wishful thinking” to believe that China would change the nature of its politics.
“It’s certainly paranoid to fear that a China that follows its own path of development would be confrontational to the United States. And it’s dangerous to advocate any strategy for confrontation,” China 's official Xinhua news agency quoted Cui as saying on Tuesday.
The event was attended by more than 700 people, including US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, White House National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Matthew Pottinger, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton.
Before taking office, US President Donald Trump frequently bashed China particularly over its trade practices; but since assuming office in January 2017, he has taken a softer line with China and tried to cultivate a relationship with the Chinese leadership. Trump made a largely successful and controversy-free visit to the Asian country late last year.
The US-Sino relations, however, still suffer from persisting areas of disagreement. Trump has time and again threatened to become tough on what he sees as “unfair” Chinese trade practices, and has also called on China to rein in North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
Furthermore, the US navy routinely sails what it calls freedom of navigation missions to challenge Chinese claims in the disputed South China Sea. Another thorny issue in bilateral relations is the self-ruled Taiwan, which is claimed fully by Beijing but armed mostly by Washington.
Earlier this week, the US Defense Department put the bilateral ties on a bumpier road when it asked Congress to approve $686 billion for military spending in 2019, citing “threats” from Russia, China , and North Korea.
Cui, however, said bilateral relations “should be characterized by overall cooperation” and governed by “friendly competition, if competition is necessary, and no confrontation.”
“We will continue to have differences between us , but our growing common interests are far more important. We may continue to have disagreements between us , but the need for cooperation will far outweigh any differences between us . We’ll continue to have problems, but dialogues will lead us to solutions” Cui further said.