China Says U.S. Relationship Based on 'Old Cold War Thinking'

The current strained relationship between the U.S. and China—the worst it has been in over 40 years—is the fault of "old Cold War thinking," said Beijing's "Wolf Warrior" diplomat on Wednesday.

In his first media appearance for 10 days since causing a fresh diplomatic row with Australia with a controversial viral tweet, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian urged the incoming Biden administration to return bilateral relations to "the right track."

Zhao said "some people in the United States adhere to old Cold War thinking and ideological prejudice." He accused the U.S. government of treating international relations like a "zero-sum game"—a phrase Chinese officials often used to describe President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tough stance on China.

The spokesperson admitted that U.S.-China relations were in their most serious state since Washington switched allegiances from Taipei and established formal ties with Beijing in 1979.

On Monday, Secretary Pompeo told the Wall Street Journal that the current U.S. perception of China was bipartisan and irreversible.

"50 years of U.S. policy firmly believed that more engagement, more commerce, more interaction would lead the Chinese Communist Party to behave like a normal nation or leaders of a normal nation. It's clearly the case that they have chosen not to do that," he said, according to a read-out released by the State Department.

Zhao, however, said the U.S. and China still "share extensive common interests," and that there was "space for cooperation." He called on, without naming, the next U.S. administration to "restart dialog and re-establish mutual trust."

The comments were echoed by his boss, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on Friday when he said China was "ready to open dialog with the U.S. on an equal footing at all levels and in all fields." It was the clearest message yet to President-elect Joe Biden and his future cabinet.

However, Wang said the U.S. would need to undergo a strategic shift, and stop perceiving Beijing as a threat, for that to happen.

Biden has suggested he will seek cooperation from China in key areas including climate change and nonproliferation, while promising to confront Beijing over its human rights violations.

Jake Sullivan, who the president-elect has chosen for national security adviser, said in a recent tweet that he was "deeply concerned about the continuing arrests and imprisonment of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong."

I'm deeply concerned about the continuing arrests and imprisonment of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. We stand united with our allies and partners against China's assault on Hong Kong's freedoms—and to help those persecuted find safe haven.

— Jake Sullivan (@jakejsullivan) December 8, 2020

At his press briefing, Zhao, the "Wolf Warrior" diplomat, accused the Trump administration of lying about the Chinese Communist Party's widely reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Rights groups say more than a million Uigurs, Turkic Muslims living in China's northwest on the border with Central Asia, have been systematically rounded up and put in internment camps against their will.

Zhao then accused Human Rights Watch of "bias" and "inflammatory lies" after the New York NGO's latest report found Chinese authorities were using big data and algorithms to arbitrarily detain Uigur Muslims before they had committed any crimes.

President Trump sanctioned Chinese officials in Xinjiang this summer and carried out similar punishments against Hong Kong leaders after Beijing introduced its national security law.

Last week, the State Department applied new visa restrictions on China's over 90 million Communist Party members and their families, and on Monday imposed sanctions on 14 vice chairs of the National People's Congress—the country's top legislature—over its rubber-stamping of laws to quash Hong Kong's democratic movement.

China, which announced reciprocal countermeasures against undisclosed senior U.S. officials on Thursday, insists Washington is meddling in its "internal affairs."

Secretary Pompeo Visits Georgia Tech
File photo: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—one of Beijing’s most vocal critics during the Trump presidency. Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images