China issues ‘olive branch’ to Trump as it panics over skyrocketing tensions with the US

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Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, told a press briefing the two superpowers “stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation”. He said China-US relations impact the progression of the world in response to remarks made by United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

Mr Guterres said the relationship “has never been as dysfunctional as it is today” and warned that escalating tensions between the two powers risk dividing the world into “two blocs”.

Mr Lijian accused US politicians of being “selfish”.

He said: “It is our consistent belief that China and the United States stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.

“Cooperation between China and the United States can benefit both countries and the whole world, and confrontation between the two countries is not in line with the interests of the international community.

“Driven by selfish motives, a small number of US politicians have been instigating anti-China sentiments, antagonism and confrontation.

“Such retrogressive moves, unpopular as they are, have been and will continue to be strongly criticised and rejected by visionary people in China and the US, as well as peace-loving people all over the world.”

Among the variety of issues between the US and China, tensions are concerns about intellectual property and the origins of the coronavirus.

They are embroiled in an economic trade war and President Trump has blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up-to-date indication of the US’s stance came in President Trump’s recent press conference.

He told reporters a win for Joe Biden in the next election would invite a total Chinese, North Korean and Iranian takeover of the US.

Mr Trump said: “They (Iran) will own this country. China will own this country. North Korea will own this country.”

He later told a radio host that if he doesn’t win the election, “You’re gonna have to learn to speak Chinese.”

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Last month, Mr Trump said a phase-two trade deal with China is unlikely because the pandemic has damaged relations “severely”.

He told a press conference: “They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn’t stop it.”

US senator Rick Scott recently made unsubstantiated claims that Beijing is trying to prevent the creation of a vaccine in the west.

Tensions were evident prior to the election of Donald Trump, with President Obama attempting to defuse China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea and its economic power with policies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Last week, the White House ordered the Chinese owners of popular social media app TikTok, ByteDance, to sell its US business within 90 days or face being shut down.

President Trump claims there is “credible evidence” that TikTok was being used by ByteDance to breach US security. ByteDance has repeatedly denied this.

Mr Lijian’s remarks come with those of China’s Ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, who warned in a webinar the relationship is in “free fall”.

Mr Tiankai said the main issue for the China-US relationship is whether the US is ready to accommodate China, despite its different culture.

He told the webinar: “We need to live in peace, strive for co-evolution, properly manage our differences, expand cooperation, and build a comprehensive, stable and constructive relationship.

“I hope people will not try to negate all this and let the relationship go down a very dangerous path.”

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