China's top diplomat to US says Beijing does not want tensions with Washington to escalate

Pro-China activists display a photo of US President Donald Trump during a protest outside the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, Aug 4, 2020.
Pro-China activists display a photo of US President Donald Trump during a protest outside the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, Aug 4, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - China does not wish to see tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate further following tit-for-tat consulate closures over the past weeks, the Chinese ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday (Aug 4).

Striking a conciliatory tone when asked about deteriorating bilateral ties, Ambassador Cui Tiankai told the Aspen Security Forum virtually that the world's top two economies should work to cooperate instead of confronting each other.

"I don't think a new Cold War would serve anybody's interest," Cui said.

"Why should we allow history to repeat... when we are faced with so many new challenges?" he said, while rejecting US allegations of Chinese spying in the Houston consulate shut down by Washington last month.

US-China ties have deteriorated sharply this year over issues ranging from the coronavirus and telecoms-equipment maker Huawei to China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

Chinese state media editorials have said the US move against the Houston consulate was an attempt to blame Beijing for US failures ahead of Trump's November re-election bid.

Opinion polls show Trump trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the Nov 3 election. The candidates have appeared to compete in their campaigns over who can appear toughest towards Beijing.