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China urges U.S. to stop sanctions against Chinese firms

China urges U.S. to stop sanctions against Chinese firms
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Friday against criticism of the Chinese Communist Party and sanctions against Chinese firms. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- China's top diplomat on Friday denounced U.S. decisions to blacklist Chinese entities and officials, describing the moves as an "emotional lashing out" against Chinese policies in its territories.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a live webcast hosted by the Asia Society that senior U.S. officials were engaging in a form of "McCarthyism," while pointing their fingers at China and leader Xi Jinping.

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"There is no evidence to support their accusation," Wang said. "They are merely irresponsible presumptions of guilt, an emotional lashing out."

Wang's comments come during the final days of the Trump administration and increased sanctions against Chinese entities.

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On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told Fox Business the government is blacklisting about 80 Chinese companies, including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. The Commerce Department said the move was made to protect U.S. national security.

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On Friday Wang described U.S. policy as "overstretching the notion of national security," and condemned official criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.

"The ruling party of China has a close bond with the Chinese people. An attack on the [Party] is an attack on 1.4 billion Chinese," Wang said.

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"Stop the arbitrary suppression of Chinese companies."

Low point in relations

The Chinese foreign minister delivered his special address at a time of persistent tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said the current state of the U.S.-China relationship is the "worst we've seen" in half a century.

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"The key challenge is, what will we do in the 2020s, which lie ahead of us," Rudd said.

Wang agreed Washington and Beijing, which represent 1.7 billion people, are facing their greatest test. But the foreign minister blamed the decline in ties to "unilateralism" and a "go-it-alone approach," without mentioning the United States or President Donald Trump by name.

Such policies and "resurging McCarthyism" have "fractured and crippled the international system," Wang said.

The Chinese diplomat repeatedly warned Trump officials against denouncing the Communist Party. China's ruling party is "deeply rooted in historical and cultural traditions" and "chosen" by the Chinese people, Wang said, referring to Beijing's system of rule under Xi, who currently governs without term limits.

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Wang also defended Chinese policies in Xinjiang and Tibet as legitimate choices. The "law of the jungle," or foreign interference, should not influence domestic affairs, he said.

"We welcome you all to visit China including the two autonomous regions. There you will see first hand a situation different from what you see and hear in the news," Wang said, denying claims of abuse in prison camps for ethnic Uighurs.

"You will see a Xinjiang and a Tibet defined by ethnic harmony, freedom of religion and a vibrant economy."

Hopes for Biden

Wang's criticism of the policies of its trading partners comes as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January.

Biden, who has called Xi a "thug" more than once during his campaign, has shown signs of promise, according to Wang.

Biden's commitment to re-enter the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement is an opportunity for Washington and Beijing to "come together," the foreign minister said.

"We welcome more active measures," Wang said.

The foreign minister also expressed hope other policies under Trump could be reversed under a Biden administration.

Wang and Rudd said the removal of the current administration's restrictions against Chinese students would be a productive step toward rehabilitating ties.

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In September, the United States canceled 1,000 visas granted to "high-risk" Chinese students who are suspected of having ties to the Chinese military.

"The view that Chinese students and scholars are spies, or suspects, says more about the accusers," Wang said.

The Chinese diplomat also said China provided 40 billion face masks to the United States, or more than 100 masks for every U.S. citizen, referring to U.S. purchases of China-made masks.

Wang briefly addressed the COVID-19 pandemic Friday, but did not address allegations of China's mishandling of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.

"Major countries should lead by example," he said.

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