Beijing says it’s not trying to unseat America as superpower

Beijing has issued its most detailed response to date to Washington’s increasingly assertive approach to countering China’s rising global influence.
Days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to confront what he called Chinese Communist Party’s “designs for hegemony,” his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said Beijing has no intention of unseating the United States as a superpower.
“Today’s China is not the former Soviet Union. We have no intention of becoming another United States. China does not export ideology and never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs,” Wang told state news agency Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
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Wang’s remarks were Beijing’s first detailed answer to Pompeo’s July 23 address at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, where the top American diplomat declared that the US’ engagement with China was a failure in the run-up to the US presidential election in November.
“We must induce China to change in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity,” Pompeo said.
Acknowledging that China-US ties were “facing the gravest challenge” in more than four decades, Wang said Beijing rejected any attempt to create a new Cold War or revive McCarthyism.
He said that the Chinese government is willing to restart dialogue with Washington to ease the tensions.
Beijing and Washington have engaged in a tit-for-tat shutdown of diplomatic consulates and cut off journalistic exchanges in recent weeks. The two countries have exchanged sanctions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang and have ratcheted up their tech war and military competition.
Wang said, “Our message is quite clear: we urge the US to stop acting with arrogance and prejudice, but enter into constructive dialogue with us on an equal footing.”
Analysts said Beijing might be looking beyond the US election, seeking to convince both the political elites in Washington and the rest of the world that it was a sensible actor during contentious moments and a defender of international rules.
Chen Long, a partner at independent research agency Plenum, said China was taking a long-term view, pinning the hope of de-escalation on a new US administration under the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the leader in the polls.
“Minister Wang’s remarks could be a message to Joe Biden, whose camp has built up a huge team of foreign policy and national security experts,” Chen said.
“It could also be out of consideration for a clear approach to the US as (China) is laying out the next five-year development plan and a longer-term ‘2035 vision,’ the major missions for a plenary session of the Communist Party to be held in October.”
Wang’s interview covered a wide range of issues and expanded on his earlier proposal for a phased-in approach to address disputes and put relations back on track.
He underlined “clear red lines” for Beijing, insisting that the US must “abandon its fantasy of remodelling China to US needs. It must stop its meddling in China’s internal affairs, and stop its irrational cracking down on China’s legitimate rights and interests.”
“China never intends to and will never interfere in the US election and other US internal affairs,” Wang said.
He called the disputed South China Sea “a common home for countries in the region” and said it should not become “a wrestling ground for international politics.” The US has sailed warships through the waterway to assert its freedom of navigation, angering Beijing.
Wang also defended China’s response to the pandemic and stressed that Hong Kong was an internal affair for China.
Beijing was not interested in a diplomatic fight but would not shy away from hitting back, he said.
Chen of Plenum, however, expected the tension to continue at least in the short term.
“On diplomatic issues we expect to hear more noises to further impair bilateral relations in the coming three months ahead of the November election,” he said.
Hours before the release of Wang’s interview, the US anno…