China foreign minister warns against misjudging Beijing's will

BEIJING • China's foreign minister has expounded Beijing's increasingly defiant stance on the international stage, taking several swipes at the US and underscoring much of the sentiment from last week's centennial celebrations speech by President Xi Jinping.

In a sweeping speech that touched on topics from the Covid-19 pandemic to counter-terrorism, North Korea to the Iran nuclear issue and Taiwan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday showcased China's rising confidence and assertiveness in global affairs, while criticising the US and its allies for grasping to an outdated Cold War mentality.

"Today's China is no longer the same country of 100 years ago," Mr Wang said. "No individual or force should underestimate the determination and capacity of the Chinese people to uphold the country's sovereignty, security and development interests."

Mr Wang was speaking at the World Peace Forum in Beijing organised by Tsinghua University and the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, a government-run policy group.

Relations between Beijing and Washington have remained strained under US President Joe Biden, despite some expectations they would improve once Mr Donald Trump left office.

Mr Biden has been slow to remove the tariffs Mr Trump put in place on Chinese goods as the administration evaluates a new set of policies.

Last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the nation's adversaries to avoid opposing his government, saying in a speech marking the Communist Party's 100th anniversary that China can no longer be "bullied and abused".

Anyone trying to do that "will surely break their heads on the steel Great Wall built with the blood and flesh of 1.4 billion of Chinese people", he said.

The first face-to-face talks between China and the US in March descended into bickering between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mr Yang Jiechi, a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo.

Washington and Beijing were reportedly discussing a meeting between Mr Blinken and Mr Wang at a recent Group of 20 event in Italy, but that never happened.

The US was exploring the possibility of a telephone call between Mr Biden and Mr Xi, according to the Financial Times, but no progress has been reported.

Mr Wang said the world must categorically oppose "bloc" confrontation, citing US efforts in the Indo-Pacific region as an example.

"Dreaming the old dream of hegemony during the Cold War will not secure a promising future, still less build back a better world," said Mr Wang.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 04, 2021, with the headline 'China foreign minister warns against misjudging Beijing's will'. Subscribe