‘Chinese people have stood up’: Beijing says it has no fear of US-EU aims to counter rising China

Beijing said on Wednesday it did not fear the relationship between the United States and the European Union after the two sides announced they would set up a body to write economic rules and take other steps to face rising competition from China.

A statement by the Chinese diplomatic mission at the EU said China was standing up and was not afraid of threats, saying the EU-US summit had gone far beyond the “norm of developing bilateral relations ... It is filled with an outdated cold war mentality and bloc politics rhetoric”.

“China is no longer ... what it was in the past. The Chinese people have stood up. Intimidation will never work on us,” the statement said. “We will stay on the course of peaceful development and at the same time, firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Kyodo

A separate statement by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian went further, saying the US and EU should reflect on the problems they faced instead of pointing the finger at China.

“The calls from US and EU on competition, cooperation and rivalry means they are seeking advantage from China while harming China’s interest,” he said.

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Zhao said China upheld multilateral trade, and that the US and EU should not criticise China’s trade practices.

He also said the two sides should not exaggerate China’s challenge and form a small circle against China.

The strong rebuke from Beijing against the US and EU came after the two sides launched a trade and technology council that seeks to “write the rules of the road” on the global economy.

A joint EU-US statement said the council would focus on removing trade barriers, setting global standards and promoting joint innovation in key technologies.

“Cooperation within the [council] will also feed into coordination in multilateral bodies and wider efforts with like-minded partners, with the aim of promoting a democratic model of digital governance,” it read.

The two also accused China of human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and the “erosion of autonomy and democratic processes in Hong Kong”, and that they were seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Sea – where Beijing has bitter maritime disputes with its neighbours.

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The Chinese diplomatic mission to the EU said: “We express our strong discontent with and firm opposition to the references to China in the statement. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet-related issues are China’s internal affairs. The East and South China Seas concern China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. All these issues represent China’s fundamental interests and allow no interference.”

The EU-US statement was the latest salvo against Beijing on US President Joe Biden’s whistle-stop European tour, which has seen him rally support among the G7 and Nato to face down China’s rising influence.

It came following months of tension between China, the US and the EU. The US and EU have hit China with sanctions over alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang. China imposed retaliatory sanctions, which led to the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between Beijing and the EU being frozen.

Beijing deemed the US moves – from freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and supplying weapons to Taiwan – violations of its sovereignty.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, addressing an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting on Wednesday, said China was determined to protect its sovereignty over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.

Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday and discussion of China is expected.

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