US-China relations souring over Taiwan, Dalai Lama

On Feb. 23, China's Foreign Ministry held a longer than usual press conference that concentrated on the growing diplomatic tension with the United States. The Chinese attitude expressed on a number of issues indicates that relations are not going to improve in the near future unless Washington appeases Beijing across the board.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang stated,

Recently, due to reasons such as US announcement of arms sales to Taiwan and US leader's meeting with Dalai, China-US relations have been severely undermined. This is what we don't want to see and the responsibility goes completely to the US side.....

The US side should earnestly abide by the principles set in the three China-US communiqués and the China-US Joint Statement, respect China's core interests and major concerns, and prudently and properly handle relevant sensitive issues so as to create conditions for the improvement and development of China-US relations.

On your last question, as my colleague has answered many times earlier, China will sanction US companies involved in the arms sales.

The very next question, however, dealt with Beijing's opposition to sanctions on Iran over its continuing nuclear weapons program. Qin answered,

On sanctions against Iran, China believes that at present stage, all parties involved should step up diplomatic efforts to maintain and push forward the dialogue and negotiation. We hope relevant parties will show further flexibility and create conditions for the comprehensive and proper settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means.

Negotiations have been in progress since 2003. They have not prevented Iran from advancing its nuclear and long-range missile programs. On Feb. 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed his country a "nuclear state" with the ability to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium. China was not alarmed by Tehran's declaration and has not wavered in its opposition to any actions at the UN that might threaten the Iranian regime. Beijing's idea of what constitutes a "proper settlement" is at odds with American objectives on a vital security issue.

Qin was also asked about the charges made by Google that it had been cyber attacked by hackers based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a vocational school. His response was unequivocal,

The heads of the two schools you mentioned have made clarifications through the media that reports of hacking attacks coming from their schools are unfounded and out of ulterior motives.

I want to stress that it is totally unfounded, irresponsible and ill-advised to accuse the Chinese Government of having connections with the hacking attacks and supporting hacking behind the scenes.

The term "ulterior motives" is often used by Chinese officials to dismiss allegations as nothing more than lies made up by those who wish to harm Beijing's image. It is then easy to dismiss the allegations without having to directly refute them.

A turning point in U.S.-China relations was the confrontation that took place at the UN climate conference at Copenhagen in December. At Tuesday's press conference, Qin cited a letter from Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressing how much he "appreciates the important and constructive role played by China, especially by Premier Wen." But this bit of diplomatic courtesy from Rasmussen cannot cover the fact that Wen's uncompromising speech on the last day of the Copenhagen meeting effectively collapsed the talks. President Barack Obama experienced Chinese intransigence personally and saw a year's worth of effort to cooperate with Beijing on climate issues come to nothing.

Indeed, the souring of relations has occurred since December. The Obama administration is reevaluating the conciliatory approach to China it took during its first year in light of the consistent hard line that Beijing has taken, and appears determined to continue, on every contentious issue between the two powers.

On Feb. 23, China's Foreign Ministry held a longer than usual press conference that concentrated on the growing diplomatic tension with the United States. The Chinese attitude expressed on a number of issues indicates that relations are not going to improve in the near future unless Washington appeases Beijing across the board.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang stated,

Recently, due to reasons such as US announcement of arms sales to Taiwan and US leader's meeting with Dalai, China-US relations have been severely undermined. This is what we don't want to see and the responsibility goes completely to the US side.....

The US side should earnestly abide by the principles set in the three China-US communiqués and the China-US Joint Statement, respect China's core interests and major concerns, and prudently and properly handle relevant sensitive issues so as to create conditions for the improvement and development of China-US relations.

On your last question, as my colleague has answered many times earlier, China will sanction US companies involved in the arms sales.

The very next question, however, dealt with Beijing's opposition to sanctions on Iran over its continuing nuclear weapons program. Qin answered,

On sanctions against Iran, China believes that at present stage, all parties involved should step up diplomatic efforts to maintain and push forward the dialogue and negotiation. We hope relevant parties will show further flexibility and create conditions for the comprehensive and proper settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means.

Negotiations have been in progress since 2003. They have not prevented Iran from advancing its nuclear and long-range missile programs. On Feb. 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed his country a "nuclear state" with the ability to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium. China was not alarmed by Tehran's declaration and has not wavered in its opposition to any actions at the UN that might threaten the Iranian regime. Beijing's idea of what constitutes a "proper settlement" is at odds with American objectives on a vital security issue.

Qin was also asked about the charges made by Google that it had been cyber attacked by hackers based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a vocational school. His response was unequivocal,

The heads of the two schools you mentioned have made clarifications through the media that reports of hacking attacks coming from their schools are unfounded and out of ulterior motives.

I want to stress that it is totally unfounded, irresponsible and ill-advised to accuse the Chinese Government of having connections with the hacking attacks and supporting hacking behind the scenes.

The term "ulterior motives" is often used by Chinese officials to dismiss allegations as nothing more than lies made up by those who wish to harm Beijing's image. It is then easy to dismiss the allegations without having to directly refute them.

A turning point in U.S.-China relations was the confrontation that took place at the UN climate conference at Copenhagen in December. At Tuesday's press conference, Qin cited a letter from Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressing how much he "appreciates the important and constructive role played by China, especially by Premier Wen." But this bit of diplomatic courtesy from Rasmussen cannot cover the fact that Wen's uncompromising speech on the last day of the Copenhagen meeting effectively collapsed the talks. President Barack Obama experienced Chinese intransigence personally and saw a year's worth of effort to cooperate with Beijing on climate issues come to nothing.

Indeed, the souring of relations has occurred since December. The Obama administration is reevaluating the conciliatory approach to China it took during its first year in light of the consistent hard line that Beijing has taken, and appears determined to continue, on every contentious issue between the two powers.

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