Updated Mar 7, 2023 - World

China warns of path to "confrontation and conflict" with U.S.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang

China's foreign minister Qin Gang attends a press conference on March 7. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The U.S. and China are on a path towards "conflict and confrontation" unless the U.S. changes course, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned Tuesday at a press conference.

Why it matters: Tensions between China and the U.S., which spiked in 2022, soured further last month after a high-altitude surveillance balloon sent by the Chinese government was discovered flying over the U.S.

State of play: President Biden has repeatedly claimed that while the U.S. seeks to compete with China it does not wish for conflict.

  • Qin threw cold water on the U.S. position, claiming that the U.S. "so-called competition" amounted to "total containment and suppression."
  • "If the U.S. side does not hit the brakes but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing or a crash and there will be conflict and confrontation," Qin said at the press conference.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby pushed back on Qin's assessment during a press briefing later Tuesday, saying that "nothing" about the administration's approach to U.S.-China relations "should lead anybody to think that we want conflict."

  • "With all due respect to the Chinese foreign minister, there's no change to the United States' posture when it comes to this bilateral relationship," Kirby added.

The big picture: Qin's remarks echoed Chinese President Xi Jinping address to political delegates on Monday, in which Xi accused the U.S. of instigating a policy of "containment, encirclement and suppression of China," NBC News reported.

  • The U.S. warned last month that China was considering sending lethal aid to Russia.
  • Qin defended the countries' close relations, saying that together China and Russia “set an example for global foreign relations" and a "driving force" for the world, per the Guardian.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

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