Xi Jinping says there is a "Western crackdown" on China, led by the US

(RFI) Chinese President Xi Jinping criticized on Tuesday (6) the Western “repression” against China, spurred, he said, by the United States. The leader called on China’s private sector for more innovations to make the country less dependent on the outside world.

Beijing’s ambitions to develop cutting-edge technology come up against increasing restrictions from Washington and its allies, which leads Chinese companies to redouble efforts to overcome the need for crucial imports.

China and the United States have been waging a fierce battle for months over the manufacture of semiconductors – electronic components indispensable for the functioning of smartphones, connected vehicles, or military equipment.

In the name of national security, Washington has in recent months multiplied sanctions against Chinese chipmakers, who are now unable to obtain American technology.

“Uncertain and unpredictable factors have increased considerably for China,” Xi Jinping said at the annual legislative session in Beijing, according to a publication by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“Western countries led by the United States have initiated a policy of containment, encirclement and repression against China, which has caused severe, unprecedented challenges to our country’s development,” added the 69-year-old president, who is expected to get a third term soon.

“In the face of profound and complex changes, both internationally and in China, we must remain calm, focused, act proactively, demonstrate unity and dare to strive for success,” Xi said. Private enterprises “should take the initiative and follow the path of quality development,” he said.

Xi also called for strengthening China’s independence “with building a strong industrial sector.” “A large country of 1.4 billion people should rely only on itself in this matter because international markets cannot protect us,” he insisted.

Suspicion of spying

Disputes between Beijing and Washington have increased in recent years over issues such as Taiwan, sovereignty in the South China Sea, the trade imbalance or the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority. Relations became even more strained in February when the U.S. government shot down a Chinese balloon that it claimed was used for espionage, which China denies.

The incident prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a diplomatic visit to Beijing, where he had intended to address a number of important issues.

Questioned on Tuesday during a press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang lamented the current state of China-US relations. The chancellor argued that relations between the two powers should be based on “common interest and friendship, not on American domestic politics and this kind of hysterical neo-martialism,” in reference to the 1950s witch hunt against communism in the United States.

Qin, who was ambassador to Washington, also lamented the recent accusations by some Western countries – with no evidence, he said – that China intends to supply Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine. The minister also said that China is “neither at the origin nor part of the crisis and has not supplied arms to any of the parties,” while calling for peace negotiations “as soon as possible.”

In February, Beijing presented a 12-point document that it called a political solution to the conflict. The text calls for respect for the territorial integrity of all countries and appeals for dialogue. However, the initiative was seen with skepticism by Western countries, since China, an important ally of Moscow, never condemned the Russian invasion.

In the interview, Qin Gang stressed that China is not at the origin of the crisis and “has not supplied weapons to any of the parties.” The diplomat also made an appeal for peace negotiations between the two countries “as soon as possible.” According to him, the relationship between Beijing and Moscow does not constitute “any threat to any country in the world.”

(With information from AFP)

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