Beijing tells Biden that it is not seeking conflict, but will defend itself
by Emanuele Scimia

Yesterday the US President said that the confrontation with China is the battle of the century. Chinese spokesman tells Washington to be more rational and abandon its “Cold War mentality.” For Chinese affairs expert Zhiqun Zhu, Beijing's rise will disrupt the international order.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Chinese government is not seeking a confrontational relationship with the United States. Instead, it wants to cooperate peacefully on the basis of mutual respect. That said, China will firmly protect its sovereignty and interests. In responding to yesterday’s speech by US President Joe Biden to US Congress, this morning Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin followed China’s standard canons.

Speaking for the first time to a joint session of Congress, the US president said the US and China are vying to “win the 21st century” in a battle that is primarily technological and over the values the two countries express.

Hitting back at Biden, Wang emphasized that “democracy is the common value of all mankind, and not a 'patented product' of one single country.”

By contrast, the US leader noted that the US-China confrontation is a broader clash between democracy and autocracy. Washington and its allies accuse Beijing of distorting democratic practices to justify its police state.

According to Wang, “it is natural for the two sides to have competition in some fields, but we should advocate fair competition”. In fact, China has accused the United States of violating international rules, both in trade and military spheres.

Wang urges the Biden administration to look at Chinese development from a more rational perspective and abandon its “Cold War mentality”.

Like his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden has taken a tough approach to relations with China, especially over human rights violations in Xinjiang, the repression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s defense.

Yesterday, China's Defense Ministry reported that since Biden took office, the US has increased its military activity in areas China claims as its own – the Taiwan Strait and the China seas. Ostensibly, activity by US Navy ships is up by 20 per cent and US planes by 40 per cent.

“President Biden is apparently using competition from China as an impetus for the United States to become stronger and more competitive and to regain its leadership role in world affairs,” said Zhiqun Zhu, a professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University in the United States.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Prof Zhu notes that China insists that with its rise it is not trying to replace the United States as the world's leading country, but to modernise the country and make it rich and powerful.

The problem, Zhu explains, is that “regardless of what China says, the United States as the dominant power will always be wary of a challenger and will do everything possible to maintain its global supremacy.”

What is more, in his view, no matter what China's real intentions are, its growing power will disrupt and test the current world political and economic order. Thus, “competition and conflict between the two major powers are inevitable unless they can figure out how to co-exist peacefully.”