China state media asks US to avert `full-scale face-off’

Vice President Mike Pence accused China of “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign. (Bloomberg pic)

In a toughly worded commentary on Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sino-US relations were at a crossroads. The piece said “relentless and groundless China-bashing rhetoric” showed that Washington wanted “a full-scale face-off.” It called on the US to stop its attacks and work with China to find a solution to their differences.

The commentary came as the US and China are locked in an escalating trade fight that has roiled world markets, and a week after Vice President Mike Pence laid out allegations of election interference in a harsh speech of his own. He accused China of “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign. He also criticized China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan by luring away diplomatic partners.

In a second commentary published on Saturday, Xinhua rebutted “five fallacies” in Pence’s address, calling the vice-president’s points “spurious and absurd”.

“Although Pence called for a relationship grounded in fairness, reciprocity and respect for sovereignty, his entire speech was just the opposite of it,” the article said.

Claim preposterous
Pence’s claim that the US helped rebuild China is “preposterous” as its remarkable development has been driven by the hard work of its own people and cooperation with the rest of the world, said the article. It also rebutted Pence’s charge that China was interfering in US elections, calling it “pure illusion”.

“Buying advertising space in US newspapers is a legitimate and common practice, and major media outlets around the world have noted that Pence offered no evidence,” said the article. “In a country constantly preaching press freedom, the claim smells of an attempt to prevent the US public from knowing more about the truth of China-US trade frictions.”

The first Xinhua article published on Friday said: “With more guns blazing and new charges flying, the onslaught is indeed unusually broad in scope and great in ferocity. From claiming undue credit for China’s development to accusing Beijing of interfering in US elections, Washington has truly cranked up its rumour-mongering machine this time.”

Multiple commentaries
The commentaries are two of many that China’s state media has published to hit back at accusations made by the US An essay on Friday in People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, said that “America’s overnight change of face from a leader to a spoiler of globalization is mainly a result of its belief that today’s globalization cannot uphold its monopoly position and super profits.”

The Xinhua piece adds that the US “can never alter the fact that Beijing’s circle of friends has kept expanding” and again criticized Washington for a “Cold War mentality.” In August, the US warned El Salvador and other Latin American nations over their decisions to cut ties with the democratically run island of Taiwan in favour China.

The Xinhua piece, which made no mention of President Donald Trump, cited Chinese President Xi Jinping as saying there were “a thousand reasons to make the China-US relationship work, and no reason to break it.”

Calumny campaign
“As to Washington, it is high time that it stopped its calumny campaign against China, abandoned its antiquated confrontational mindset, and worked with Beijing to steer their relationship out of the rough patch as soon as possible,” the article said.

A commentary in the Global Times, a right-wing party publication that usually takes a hawkish stance, struck a conciliatory note, writing that “as great countries, China and the US should become the driving force for human society rather than fighting with each other.”

Arguing that China will not be able to catch up to the US in technology innovation and cultural creativity, and that it is “unlikely to build a global military base network like the US has done,” the piece said that “the two countries will have different strengths”.