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China’s powerful spy agency has attacked recent diplomatic overtures from the US as mixing engagement and containment, hinting that a possible meeting of the two countries’ presidents in November will be in jeopardy if Washington does not show more “sincerity”.
The rare warning from the Ministry of State Security came less than a week after US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo visited Beijing, praising her meetings with Chinese officials but warning that US businesses viewed China as increasingly “uninvestable”.
“Recently, a number of US officials visited China one after another, saying that the Biden administration has no intention to curb China’s development or seek decoupling from China,” the MSS said in a statement on its official WeChat social media account.
The US strategy on rapprochement with China was “old wine in new bottles”, the ministry said, pointing at Washington’s approval of arms sales and military financing to Taiwan, over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
“China will never relax its vigilance because of a few ‘beautiful words’ from the United States,” it said.
The MSS accused the US of continuing to “stir up trouble” in the South China Sea and Tibet. Washington has said it will punish Chinese officials responsible for what it called the forcible assimilation of 1mn Tibetan children in government-run boarding schools.
In addition, the US “openly badmouthed the Chinese economy”, the MSS said.
Last month, US president Joe Biden described China as a “ticking timebomb”, saying the country was in trouble because its economic growth had slowed.
The MSS issued what appeared to be a veiled warning on an expected meeting between China’s president Xi Jinping and Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco in November. This would be their first meeting since they spoke last year at the G20 in Bali, Indonesia.
“To truly achieve ‘From Bali to San Francisco’,” the United States needs to show sufficient sincerity,” the MSS said.
Since the US and China re-established diplomatic relations in 1979, Washington’s typical approach had been a combination of “engagement and containment”, it added.
The MSS’s comments are Beijing’s sternest rejoinder yet to recent statements from the US, which has been seeking to re-establish dialogue and improve bilateral relations.
Raimondo’s visit followed those of secretary of state Antony Blinken and Treasury secretary Janet Yellen in recent months. The US commerce secretary said she found her Chinese counterparts receptive and established a number of channels for communication to solve commercial and intellectual property issues and to discuss export controls.
But she also demanded action from Beijing on what she said were increasing barriers for US companies doing business in China, including random fines, police raids on offices and new espionage and data laws.
The MSS said the Biden and Trump administrations had both relentlessly escalated economic decoupling, supply chain disruptions and containment of China, but that the strategy was “doomed to failure”.
This was because the “momentum of historical development” was not on “the American side”, it said. “The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process.”
The MSS comments follow China’s confirmation on Monday that Xi will not attend a G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi this weekend, the first such gathering he has missed since taking power in 2013.