US has a wrong perception of China, says foreign minister

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The US is clinging to wrong perceptions of China and has yet to fulfill its “promises” despite some progress since presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met last November, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of an annual parliament meeting in Beijing, Wang said exchanges between both countries can only continue if both sides respect and recognize their differences.

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“It has to be pointed out that the US side’s erroneous perception of China continues, and the promises it has made have not really been fulfilled,” Wang said at the National People’s Congress.

“The methods of suppressing China are constantly being renewed, and the list of unilateral sanctions is constantly being extended,” he said.

The “crimes” the US wanted to add to the list China had supposedly committed “have reached an unbelievable level,” Wang said.

Still, Biden had made it clear the US would not seek a new Cold War nor seek to change the Chinese system or back Taiwan’s independence, Wang said.

In an annual and wide-ranging discussion, Wang struck a relatively measured tone as he also covered relations with Russia and the Ukraine conflict, Europe, China’s stuttering economy and artificial intelligence.

Wang said China would submit a draft resolution on AI to the United Nations General Assembly, reflecting the need for both development and security.

“AI should always be under the control of human beings,” he said.

Uneasy detente

Tensions between the two superpowers have slightly eased since Biden and Xi staged their landmark summit in San Francisco last November, but they remain in an uneasy detente ahead of the US election this year which could see Republican China hawk Donald Trump return to the White House.

Washington has repeatedly stated its desire to put a floor under the relationship after it spiraled to its worst in decades last year over issues including Taiwan, tech competition, trade and an alleged Chinese spy balloon shot down by the US off its east coast.

China alleges the US is trying to contain and suppress its high-tech development and industrial policy, while both militaries eye each other closely amid increased deployments across East Asia.

“So we urge the US to understand the historical development trend, objectively and rationally look at China’s development (and) actively and pragmatically carry out interactions with China.”

Beijing also faces ongoing geopolitical confrontations on multiple fronts, including with Europe on trade and the Ukraine war, Japan across a variety of issues, as well as the Philippines over the South China Sea, a regional hotbed of competing territorial claims.

Wang said China is willing to work with Russia to foster new drivers of cooperation and consolidate friendship.

China and Russia had declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

Wang also announced an expansion of its visa-free travel scheme, saying that China will offer visa-free travel to nationals from Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Australia, Belgium and Luxembourg from March 14.

China currently has a mutual visa waiver agreement with 22 countries, including most recently Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

China has also unilaterally allowed visa-free entry for citizens from nations such as Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy for 15 days. Those five European nations have yet to reciprocate with a similar arrangement for Chinese citizens.

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