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Protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong earlier this month. Photo: Sam Tsang

China-US ties – from Hong Kong to Xinjiang – dogged by lies, ‘fake news’, ‘capitalist dogma’, Chinese ambassador says

  • China’s top diplomat says two countries need to base relations on facts
  • Cui Tiankai warns Washington not to put Beijing’s ‘bottom line’ to the test
Xi Jinping
Lies, “fake news”, and “capitalist dogma” are responsible for China’s main sources of friction with the US, including unrest in Hong Kong and accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Beijing’s top diplomat in America said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the annual gala of the China General Chamber of Commerce – USA in New York, ambassador Cui Tiankai warned Washington “not to put our bottom line to [the] test” and repeated a line from a recent speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that “we are not afraid of storms and dangers and barriers”.

“In the new year, China and the United States need to base their relations on facts and not let lies and ‘fake news’ have their way,” Cui said.

“The problems besetting Hong Kong society, such as wealth polarisation and social division, are rooted in the blind faith in and indiscriminate application of capitalist dogma, but some people are using Hong Kong’s problems to stir up violence, and their ultimate scheme is to contain and split up China.”

The ambassador made his speech just hours after a US congressional body released a 323-page report slamming China for an alleged lack of civil liberties in the country.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) called on US government officials, including those in charge of trade talks, to press their Chinese counterparts on matters including censorship and the mass internment of Uygurs and other largely Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in China’s far west.

“In the case of Xinjiang, our counterterrorism efforts there have ensured the safety of people of various ethnic groups, and curbed the spread of extremism,” Cui said.

US commission calls on Trump to support human rights and democracy in China

“However, we have seen facts distorted and sensational numbers fabricated about Xinjiang to justify terrorism.

“China and the United States need to respect each other and not challenge each other’s core interests. Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tibet are all China’s territories far away from America.

“On the issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we urge the US not to put our bottom line to [the] test.”

US legislation on Hong Kong and Xinjiang has angered Beijing, further damaging bilateral relations that had already been frayed by a trade war now in its 19th month.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in November, directs the US government to identify and sanction individuals deemed responsible for violating “internationally recognised human rights” in the territory, where protests against the city’s government and the rise of Beijing’s influence have raged since June.

Last month, the US House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously to approve the Uygur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act (UIGHUR Act) of 2019, which would command the US administration to identify and sanction officials deemed responsible for their involvement in the mass internment of members of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.

While warning the US to back away from criticism about Beijing’s approach to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tibet, Cui peppered his speech with calls for China-US unity and optimism that the two sides will be able to end the trade war.

“Decoupling is not an option for China and the United States, nor can a new cold war find popular support anywhere in the world,” he said. “I believe that as long as we pull together, the giant ship of China-US relations will break the waves, navigate out of choppy waters and sail on towards better shores.”

A Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He will travel to Washington on Monday to sign a phase one trade deal with the United States, China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Diplomat blames fake news and dogma for friction