February 21. 2024. 7:09

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China accuses US of prolonging Ukraine war for its own ends

China has suggested that the United States is undermining efforts to find a peaceful settlement in Ukraine and prolonging the war for its own geopolitical ends. Foreign minister Qin Gang said Washington was trying to build an Asian version of Nato to target China, warning that the US must change course to avoid conflict.

“If the United States does not hit the brake but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation. Who will bear the catastrophic consequences? Such competition is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interest of the two peoples and even the future of humanity,” he said.

Speaking to reporters during the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislative body, Mr Qin rejected US claims that Beijing was considering the supply of lethal weapons to Moscow. He said China chose peace over war, dialogue over sanctions and lowering the temperature over fanning the flames.

“China did not create the crisis, it is not a party to the crisis and has not provided weapons to either side of the conflict,” he said.

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“Regrettably, however, efforts for peace talks have been repeatedly undermined. There seems to be an invisible hand pushing for the protraction and escalation of the conflict and using the Ukraine crisis to serve certain geopolitical agendas.”

Mr Qin, who was until recently China’s ambassador to the US, said Washington’s military aid for Taiwan was at odds with its rhetoric about defending Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Beijing’s relationship with Washington has been marked by heightened tension since the US shot down a Chinese balloon off the coast of Virginia last month. Mr Qin said that the Biden administration had hyped up an accidental incursion into US airspace so that it became a diplomatic standoff.

Washington has targeted Beijing economically in recent months, banning the sale of advanced microchips to China and reportedly planning to prohibit US investment in some sectors. Mr Qin said that, instead of engaging in fair competition, the US was like an athlete in a race trying to trip or injure another competitor.

“The US Indo-Pacific strategy, while purportedly aimed at upholding freedom and openness, maintaining security and promoting prosperity in the region, is in fact an attempt to gang up to form exclusive blocs, to provoke confrontation by plotting an Asia-Pacific version of Nato, and to undermine regional integration through decoupling and cutting supply chains.”

China has focused much of its diplomatic energy in recent weeks on cultivating better relationships with European countries, many of which are unhappy with Beijing’s failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. French president Emmanuel Macron will visit Beijing in April and other European leaders are expected to follow in subsequent months.

Mr Qin said China wanted to work with Europe to promote “true multilateralism” and to bring more stability to a world of disorder.

“China and Europe are two great civilisations, two big markets and two major forces. Our interactions are an independent choice made by the two sides entirely based on our respective strategic interests. The China-Europe relationship is not targeted at any third party, nor is it subjugated to or controlled by any third party,” he said.

“No matter how the situation may evolve, China all along sees the European Union as a comprehensive strategic partner and supports European integration. We hope that Europe, with the painful Ukraine crisis in mind, will truly realise strategic autonomy and long-term peace and stability.”