China, U.S. on 'Brink of New Cold War' Over Coronavirus, Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Says

China and the United States are veering toward a "new Cold War," Beijing's foreign minister warned just one day after Hong Kong protests reignited.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said "political forces" in the U.S. are influencing the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The communist Chinese government on Friday announced new national security laws aimed to suppress such protests by banning behaviors loosely classified as treason and subversion. Wang chastised U.S. leaders during a press conference during the annual National People's Congress meetings in which Beijing lawmakers addressed their top 2020 concerns: national security issues involving the Hong Kong protests and economic growth in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Some political forces in the U.S. are hijacking the China-U.S. relations and pushing our two countries toward a 'new Cold War'," the Chinese foreign minister said. "This dangerous attempt to turn back the wheel of history will undo the fruits of decades of long cooperation between the two peoples."

Tensions between the world's two largest economies have increased as the Trump administration has derided China's response to the coronavirus epidemic's origins and the two countries have gone tit-for-tat on business sanctions hampering international trade power. On Sunday, White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said Hong Kong could lose trade status with the U.S. and other worldwide financial hubs if the proposals made by Beijing lawmakers Friday go into effect.

"I can't see how Hong Kong remains an Asian financial center if the Chinese Communist Party implements its national security law," O'Brien said Sunday on Face the Nation.

Wang repeatedly criticized seemingly subversive U.S. political forces of trying to undermine mainland China's rules. Earlier this month, the FBI said it was investigating attempts by Chinese hackers to steal U.S. research into a coronavirus vaccine.

"China has no intention to change, still less replace, the United States," Wang said before a selected group of journalists. "It's time for the United States to give up its wishful thinking of changing China and stopping 1.4 billion people in their historic march toward modernization ... [American politicians] are taking U.S.-China relations hostage."

Wang, who is China's former Ambassador to Japan and director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, continued: "This dangerous attempt to turn back the will of history will undo the fruits of decades-long China-U.S. cooperation, dampen America's own development prospects, and put world stability and prosperity in jeopardy."

The rift between the world's most powerful economies has increased global trade speculation the U.S. is inching toward a closer relationship with India. China's state-run Global Times publication ran an editorial Monday saying Western media is amplifying criticism of Beijing's Hong Kong restrictions. The piece said such laws will work under China's controversial "one country, two systems" principle which has unofficially been applied in the past toward Macau, Taiwan and Tibet.

Newsweek reached out to the Chinese embassy in Washington for additional details Monday afternoon.

Speaking at the opening day of the People's Congress meeting this past week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said of the proposed anti-democracy protest legislation, ""We will establish sound legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security."

china us relations cold war
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said "political forces" in the U.S. are influencing the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. ANDREA VERDELLI / Stringer/Getty Images