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Chinese State Media: Beijing Will Attack U.S. ‘Rationally and Powerfully’ if Necessary

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers march past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade in Beijing on September 3, 2015
AFP/File JASON LEE
FRANCES MARTEL

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper resumed attacks on the Trump administration Sunday in response to what it calls a “barrage of high-profile accusations” from Washington, particularly an extensive speech by Vice President Mike Pence two weeks ago identifying China as a global threat.

The Global Times targeted its ire primarily towards National Security Adviser John Bolton during the weekend, who said in an interview last week that containing the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive expansion in the region was the “major issue this century.”

“Bolton’s remarks are a part of it and more like a continuation of the stinging speech against China delivered by Vice President Mike Pence on October 4,” the Times claimed. “A barrage of high-profile accusations against China made by senior US officials has exerted a bad influence globally.”

The Global Times article contrasted Bolton’s and Pence’s remarks with what it alleged was a collected response to the attacks, without noting that the same publication threatened a “new Cold War” with the United States last week. The publication argued the opposite of this claim in the Sunday article: that only China’s mature leadership could prevent the cold war that only China was threatening to wage.

Even in attempting to argue that Beijing had responded in a measured manner to Washington’s accusations of widespread crimes – intellectual property theft, violations of sovereignty in the South China Sea, cyber espionage, among others – the Global Times threatened action against American officials for speaking out about Chinese abuses.

“China exercised restraint in showing toughness. That doesn’t mean China will concede on issues of principle,” the Times warned. “Whenever the US provokes China on trade, the South China Sea or the Taiwan question, China never hesitated to strike back.”

“China has economic and military power and will respond rationally and powerfully to US provocations on specific issues,” the publication continued. “China has no interest in an overall confrontation with the U.S. A new Cold War pattern will not take shape if China exercises restraint.”

Xinhua, another state news outlet, published a commentary on Monday continuing attacks on the United States, this time calling America a “cyber predator” that allegedly routinely attacks rivals.

“The United States’ ongoing smear campaign against China is rather sweeping, stretching from real-world fabrications to cyber-space concoctions,” Xinhua claimed. “Yet just like in the real world, the superpower likes playing victim in the cyber space. The United States, a cyber predator that has a notorious record of violating other countries’ interests and rights, keeps claiming that it is prey to cyber attacks launched by other countries.”

The Xinhua piece once again mentioned Pence’s October 4 speech detailing the China threat, which it described as “an unusually ferocious tirade … groundlessly accusing Beijing of scheming cyber attacks against the United States.”

The two articles opening the week continue a trend of belligerent remarks in state media against the United States, and Pence in particular, begun last week. Xinhua and the Global Times joined other English-language government publications like the People’s Daily and China Daily in alternatively attacking Pence for allegedly belligerence and claiming shock and disappointment that the United States views China as a rival.

Pence’s speech repeated much of what the Trump administration had already laid out in its National Security Strategy last years, which identified China as a “strategic competitor” and urged development to ensure that China’s Communist Party did not expand its influence and repress its neighbors, American allies.

“Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States,” Pence told the Hudson Institute, accusing China of “wholesale theft of American technology” as well as violating international law in the South China Sea and constructing military facilities on territory belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines.

Congress expanded upon the executive branch’s broadside against China with the publication of an annual report crafted by the Congressional Executive Commission on China finding that gross human rights violations have become increasingly commonplace under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

“The Commission’s Annual Report painstakingly documents rights violations in ethnic minority regions, religious freedom violations, harassment of rights defenders and lawyers, suppression of free speech, large-scale forced evictions, onerous restrictions on civil society and more,” the report notes, “all of which are the markings of a repressive, one-party state.”

The report goes on to describe the situation in Xinjiang, where China has established “re-education camps” to force ethnic Uighur Muslims to abandon their culture and faith, as a “police state to rival North Korea, with a formalized racism on the order of South African apartheid.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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