China slams US over Biden ‘xenophobic’ claims

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Beijing on Thursday accused the United States of hypocrisy in response to accusations by President Joe Biden that China is “xenophobic” and “cheating” on trade.

“I would like to ask him: are you talking about China or the US itself?” foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian said, when asked about the comments.

In a speech Wednesday to union members, Biden called for a hike in steel tariffs on China, accusing it of cheating as he courted blue-collar voters on an election campaign trip to the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

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“They’re not competing, they’re cheating. They’re cheating and we’ve seen the damage here in America,” the 81-year-old Biden said to cheers at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh.

The Democrat said Chinese steel companies “don’t need to worry about making a profit because the Chinese government is subsidizing them so heavily”.

Biden said he had called for the US Trade Representative to triple the tariff rates for Chinese steel and aluminum if Beijing was confirmed to be using anti-competitive practices.

“They’re xenophobic,” he added. “They’ve got real problems. I’m not looking for a fight with China, I’m looking for competition -- but fair competition.”

Beijing and Washington have clashed in recent years on flashpoint issues from technology and trade to human rights as well as over the self-ruled island of Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea.

Relations have stabilized somewhat since Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in San Francisco in November for talks that both sides described as a qualified success.

The two held a follow-up telephone call this month in which they clashed over US trade restrictions on technology and on Taiwan, which Beijing claims.

But they also agreed that two high-level US officials would soon travel to China -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited last week, with top diplomat Antony Blinken due in Beijing soon.

The United States also this week announced a probe into China’s trade practices in the shipbuilding, maritime and logistics sectors.

China’s commerce ministry hit back, saying the probe was “full of false accusations, misinterpreting normal trade and investment activities as harming US national security and corporate interests, and blaming China for its own industrial problems”.

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