'Racism' at Heart of U.S. Policy Toward China, Former Ambassador Says

China's former ambassador to the United States said Washington's policy toward Beijing is influenced by racism and that Americans would never embrace a superpower from a different culture.

Cui Tiankai, 69, was the longest-serving Chinese envoy in the U.S. capital, holding the crucial post from April 2013 to June 2021. He was China's ambassador to Japan before that.

At an annual conference hosted by China's Foreign Ministry on Monday, Cui told participants in Beijing that any analysis of "changes not seen in a century" must involve a consideration of dynamics including economics, technology, politics, society and international relations.

"China-U.S. relations are at a historic stage that will last for quite some time," said Cui. "The United States will not willingly accept the rise of a great power with a very different social system, ideology, cultural traditions and even race."

"I've always believed that there is a strong element of racism in U.S. policy toward China, only some don't admit it, while others do," the former ambassador said. He predicted the U.S. would "spare no effort to suppress, contain, divide and encircle China."

"We must be clear-headed about this and fully prepare to deal with twists and turns and even roller-coaster scenarios in China-U.S. relations in the future," Cui said.

Cui's final year in Washington straddled the Republican-to-Democrat transition between the administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. He also witnessed the hardening of American views toward China at the start of the U.S.-China trade war and later the COVID pandemic.

In addition to his pessimistic forecast, he appeared to urge caution and warned against overreach at a time of heightened military tensions and unpredictable supply chain restructuring.

China should do everything possible "to minimize the costs and impact on our interests," Cui said. Quoting the late Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, he continued: "In principle, we should fight no battle unprepared and fight no battle we are not sure of winning; fight no war of anger or war of attrition."

"Every bit of the people's interest is hard-won. We must not allow it to be plundered by anyone or lose it through our own carelessness, negligence and incompetence," Cui said.

Difficulties and Challenges

Cui's assessment of relations with Washington is far from unique within China's political establishment. Monday's event—the Symposium on the International Situation and China's Foreign Relations in 2021—was also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who blamed the "serious difficulties and many challenges" in the bilateral relationship on the the U.S.'s "strategic misjudgment" of China.

Explaining Beijing's posture going forward, Wang said: "Dialogue is OK, but it should be on equal terms; cooperation is welcome, but it should be mutually beneficial; competition is no problem, but it should be positive. [China] does not fear confrontation and will fight to the end."

In July, China's most important foreign posting, once occupied by Cui, was filled by Ambassador Qin Gang, who has engaged actively with the U.S.'s policy and business communities to recalibrate U.S.-China ties. He also carries Beijing's clear message about the U.S.'s responsibility to take the first step in mending strained relations.

Newsweek contacted the State Department for comment.

U.S. Policy Toward China Racist: China's Ex-ambassador
A file photo of Cui Tiankai, China's former ambassador to the United States, taking part in a meeting at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2015. At a conference in Beijing on December 20, 2021, Cui, who left his post six months earlier, said a "strong element of racism" existed in U.S. policy toward China. CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP via Getty Images