China Angered by ‘America First’ Commitments in U.S. Defense Act

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

China condemned the new U.S. Defense Act signed by President Donald Trump on Monday, claiming it will exacerbate tensions between the two countries already fighting a bitter trade war.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $716 billion in military spending as well as a loosening of restrictions on government contracts with Chinese technology firms ZTE Corp and Huawei.

However, the act also identifies “long-term strategic competition with China” as “a principal priority for the U.S,” while committing to support a self-sufficient Taiwan free from Beijing’s interference.

Chinese officials reacted with particular anger to the strengthening the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews all major foreign investments to determine whether they present a national security threat, claiming the measures was targeting China.

In a statement on Tuesday, China’s Commerce Ministry said they would “comprehensively assess the contents” of the act to determine a potential impact on Chinese industry, but remained “strongly dissatisfied” with the outcome.

“The U.S. should abandon its cold war mindset and zero-sum philosophy and view China and Sino-US relations in an objective perspective,” the ministry said in a statement, before urging Trump to remove “negative contents related to China so as not to cause damages in Sino-US relations and bilateral cooperation in key areas.”

“The U.S. side should objectively and fairly treat Chinese investors, and avoid CFIUS becoming an obstacle to investment cooperation between Chinese and U.S. firms,” they continued.

Meanwhile, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian also expressed anger at American efforts to curtail Chinese aggression towards Taiwan, claiming it had “jeopardized the development atmosphere in the relations between the Chinese and American militaries and hampered the mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US.”

The act states that “the United States should strengthen defense and security cooperation with Taiwan to support the development of capable, ready and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

“The Chinese military is firmly opposed [to the act] and has lodged a serious protect with the US side,” Wu said, before asking the U.S. to “deal with Taiwan-related issues with prudence to avoid harm to the military relations of the two countries as well as cross-strait stability.”

The dispute is likely to worsen relations between the two powers amid the ongoing trade war after Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum to protect workers against the outsourcing of jobs abroad, a move that was reciprocated by China shortly aftewards.

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