Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defended China’s stance on the war in Ukraine and suggested that it would deepen ties with Russia in the year ahead, as he hailed the “historic strides forward” in Chinese-Arab relations.
Speaking by video to a conference in the Chinese capital, Wang on Sunday also blamed the United States for the deterioration in relations between the world’s two largest economies, saying that Beijing has “firmly rejected” Washington’s “erroneous China policy”.
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China has pushed back against Western pressure on trade, technology, human rights and its claims to a broad swath of the Western Pacific, accusing the US of bullying.
Its refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine and join others in imposing sanctions on Russia has further frayed ties and fuelled an emerging divide with much of Europe.
“With regard to the Ukraine crisis, we have consistently upheld the fundamental principles of objectivity and impartiality, without favouring one side or the other, or adding fuel to the fire, still less seeking selfish gains from the situation,” Wang said, according to an official text of his remarks.
He added China would “deepen strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation” with Russia. Warships from the two countries held joint naval drills in the East China Sea last week.
Wang said bilateral trade between the two countries is approaching the $200bn target “at a faster pace”, adding that major investment projects are well under way.
Citing the recent trip by President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia, where he attended the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Summit, Wang said China and Arab countries “have reached consensus on building a closer China-Arab community with a shared future”.
During the visit, Xi signed several strategic and economic partnership deals and said China would continue to import large quantities of oil from Gulf countries and expand imports of liquefied natural gas.
Xi is pushing Chinese industry to become more self-sufficient, but Wang acknowledged in his speech that experience has shown “that China and the United States cannot decouple or sever supply chains”.
He said China would strive to bring relations with the US back on course, saying they had plunged because “the United States has stubbornly continued to see China as its primary competitor and engage in blatant blockade, suppression and provocation against China”.
Wang and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked by phone late last week.
The State Department said Blinken discussed the need to manage the US-China relationship responsibly and raised concerns about Russia’s war against Ukraine and the threats it poses to global security and economic stability.
Wang accused the US of “unilateral bullying” and said China would continue to play a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine crisis in its own way, a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.