China’s top foreign policy advisor has warned the United States not to interfere in Hong Kong and Xinjiang’s affairs after the Biden administration condemned Beijing’s policies in the two regions.
Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, is the highest-ranking Chinese leader to speak on China-US relations since US President Joe Biden took office last month.
Yang’s comments on Tuesday followed criticism from senior Biden administration officials against China’s repression of Muslim minorities and its clampdown on Hong Kong.
Under the Trump administration, US relations with China plunged to their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, as both sides clashed over issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, and the South China Sea.
Yang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, called for Beijing and Washington to put their relations back on a ‘predictable and constructive’ path.
‘More than a week ago, the Biden administration officially took office. China-US relations now stand at a key moment and face new opportunities and new challenges,’ he told a virtual meeting organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations, a New York-based non-profit organisation.
‘People in the two countries and beyond are watching closely as to where this relationship is heading.’
While reassuring the United States that China has no intention to challenge or replace the US position in the world, Yang stressed that no force could hold back China’s development.
He stated: ‘We expect the United States to honour its commitment under the three Sino-US Joint Communiqués, strictly abide by the One China principle, and respect China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan question.
‘The United States should stop interference in the affairs of Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, which all matter to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stop attempts to hold back China’s development by meddling in China’s internal affairs.’
On Friday, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China for its actions against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, its crackdown in Hong Kong and threats towards Taiwan.
Sullivan told an event at the United States Institute of Peace that Washington needed to speak with clarity and consistency on the issues.
He said it needed to be ‘prepared to act, as well to impose costs, for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it’s doing in Hong Kong, for the bellicosity and threats it is projecting towards Taiwan.’
Sullivan did not elaborate on steps Washington might take.
He said the China issue was at the top of those to be addressed between the United States and allies in Europe.
He stressed the need to agree on joint responses with Europe on China’s trade and technology abuses.
‘We don’t have entirely aligned perspectives on every one of these issues … I think China is right at the top of the list of things that we’ve got to work together on and where there is work to do to get fully aligned.’
The Biden administration, which took office on January 20, has indicated it will continue the tough approach to China pursued by former President Donald Trump, but wants Beijing’s cooperation on policy priorities such as climate change.
President Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken has endorsed a last-minute determination by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang. The move increases pressure for more US sanctions, which the Trump administration also imposed over Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
President Biden’s administration issued a strong statement in support of Taiwan amid stepped-up Chinese military activity near the island, stressing that the US commitment to Taipei is ‘rock solid’.