U.S.-China Conflict Would Be a 'Disaster' for Whole World, Beijing Warns

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has warned that U.S.-Chinese conflict would be a "disaster" for both nations and the rest of the world, as Beijing waits for President-Elect Joe Biden's foreign policy strategy to take shape.

Wang spoke at an Asia Society event Friday with around a month until Biden takes office. Four years of conflict between the Chinese Communist Party and President Donald Trump have seen ties spiral "down to the lowest level since the establishment of diplomatic ties 41 years ago," Wang said, according to tweets from foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

Wang urged the incoming team to approach Beijing with a cooperative mindset rather than combative, but also warned that the CCP would brook no "foreign interference" in its suppression of internal domestic in places like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

"China has no intention to compete for hegemony," Wang said. "We never interfere in other's internal affairs. We don't export our system and model. Not in the least do we seek spheres of influence."

"China stays committed to developing a relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability with the United States," he added, "under the principle of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation."

Despite Wang's warm words, there is bipartisan agreement in Washington that China will be America's most significant long-term strategic challenge for the coming generation.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and territorial tensions in the South China Sea and around Taiwan have sharpened the American desire to confront Chinese authoritarianism.

Biden—long part of the political establishment that incorrectly believed access to global markets and institutions would encourage a more liberal China—vowed on the campaign trail to push back on Chinese abuses, and build multilateral cooperation to address its malign behavior.

Chinese officials and state media have framed Western criticism as a racist and doomed attempt to maintain American global hegemony. Wang said Friday that conflict between the world's two largest economies "is clearly not in the interests of the Chinese and American peoples, nor is it helpful when global efforts are needed to overcome the difficulties."

"Regrettably however, when we turn on TVs, read newspapers, and access new media, we would often see senior U.S. officials pointing fingers at China," Wang added. "There is no evidence to support their accusations. They are merely irresponsible presumption of guilt and emotional lashing out."

"An attack on the CPC is an attack on the 1.4 billion Chinese people," Wang said, using an alternative acronym for the CCP. "It is doomed to fail."

Wang repeated Beijing's assertion that its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet are domestic issues that shall not be "subject to foreign interference." Biden has pledged to defend human rights and democracy, which will almost certainly bring his administration into further conflict with Beijing.

Biden has vowed to work closely with American allies to present a united front against Chinese abuses, a contrast to Trump's unilateral "America First" approach to foreign affairs. "But in the age of globalization, the interests of all countries are so intertwined that the overwhelming majority of them do not want to take sides, let alone being forced into confrontation with China," Wang said.

China minister Wang Yi speaks in Berlin
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the media during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as part of a meeting on September 1, in Berlin. Michael Sohn - Pool / Getty Images/Getty