BEIJING — The Chinese government on Thursday accused Washington of “Cold War thinking” and appealed for efforts to repair strained relations after President Joe Biden released a national security strategy that calls for “out-competing China” and blocking its efforts to reshape global affairs.
The foreign ministry also accused Washington of trade protectionism after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States would reinforce its global supply chains to guard against “geopolitical coercion” by China, Russia and other governments.
Biden’s document Wednesday accused China of trying to “erode U.S. alliances” and “create more permissive conditions for its own authoritarian model.” It called for “out-competing China” in political alliances and “global governance” as well as business, technology and military affairs.
U.S.-Chinese relations are at their lowest level in decades, strained by disputes over technology, security, Taiwan and human rights.
“Cold War thinking and zero-sum games, sensationalizing geopolitical conflicts and great power competition are unpopular and unconstructive,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning. She called on Washington to “meet China halfway and promote China-U.S. relations back to a healthy and stable track.”
The White House document calls for the United States to “maintain a competitive edge” over China, which has antagonized Japan, India and other neighbors with an increasingly assertive foreign policy and growing military.
China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to build ports, railways and other infrastructure across Asia and Africa has fed concern in Washington, Moscow and other capitals that Beijing is trying to build its strategic influence and undermine theirs.
China, with the second-largest global economy and military, is the “only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it,” the document says.
Mao, speaking at a regular news briefing, said China was a “defender of the world order” and rejected “sensationalizing geopolitical conflicts and great power competition.”
Mao criticized the “weaponization of economic and trade issues” after Yellen said Wednesday the United States was trying to reduce reliance on China and other Asian suppliers of semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, solar panels and other technology.
President Xi Jinping’s government is spending heavily to reduce its need for U.S. and other Western technology by developing its own creators of processor chips, artificial intelligence, aerospace and other know-how. Beijing is pressing Chinese companies to reduce reliance on global supply chains by using domestic vendors whenever possible, even if that increases costs.
“We know the cost of Russia’s weaponization of trade as a tool of geopolitical coercion, and we must mitigate similar vulnerabilities to countries like China,” Yellen said in Washington.
The United States should “abandon unilateralism and protectionism,” Mao said, and work with “the international community to maintain the security and smooth flow of the industrial and supply chain.”