America must make a ‘fundamental choice’: China’s ambassador to the US

America must make a 'fundamental choice'
China's Ambassador to the US denied claims made by the west. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Cui Tiankai, China’s Ambassador to the US said America must make a “fundamental choice” about whether it can live peacefully with a “modernized, strong, prosperous” China.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Saturday, the ambassador spoke about dizzying few days in the souring relationship between the US and China.

It emerged earlier this week that the Trump administration is reportedly considering banning members of the Chinese Communist Party from entering the US, and on Thursday the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused America of oppressing and bullying China.

In response to claims by some countries in the West that under President Xi Jinping, China has become more expansionist, repressive and assertive power, Cui said “people have to fully recognize the realities of today’s world.”

He said: “We certainly have the legitimate right to build our country into a modernized, strong, prosperous country, like every other country in the world.”

He said the fundamental question for the United States is very simple. “Is the United States ready or willing to live with another country with a very different culture, a very different political and economic system … in peace and cooperate on so many and still growing global challenges?”

Hong Kong

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Tuesday revoking the US’s special relationship with Hong Kong. The White House made the step on the grounds that a new security law in the territory imposed by Beijing means the city is no longer sufficiently autonomous from China to justify special treatment. The special status had previously bestowed other privileges and exempted Hong Kong from certain tariffs.

Critics of the law say it undercuts legal and political freedoms that have existed in Hong Kong since Britain handed the former colony to China in 1997.

Protesters against the new national security law gesture with five fingers, signifying the “Five demands – not one less”. Source:AP

The law introduces four new crimes: subversion, secession, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country. The maximum punishment of the law is life in prison. The news security law puts foreign citizens who criticize the Chinese government anywhere in the world at risk of jail if they set foot in the city — even if they are just transiting through its airport.

But ambassador Cui repeated what many Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials have said in recent weeks: that the law upholds the “one country, two systems” framework that governs Hong Kong, and will make the city “more stable.”

China’s ambassador to the US said: “People could have a more predictable, safer environment to do their business in Hong Kong. That’s the real purpose of this law.”

Xinjiang

Beijing announced sanctions against two top Republicans Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, in retaliation for measures announced by the White House last week over Beijing’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The United State’s sanctions on Chinese officials include a block preventing US nationals from conducting business with them and the freezing of their American assets. Those sanctioned by the US also face visa restrictions, preventing them and their families from entering the US.

The US believes that as many as 2 million Muslim-majority Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities have been imprisoned in enormous re-education camps in Xinjiang since 2015, as part of a region wide crackdown by Beijing.

UK accused China of 'gross' human rights abuses against Uighurs
It is believed that China have been doing human rights abuses against Uighurs over the past few years. Source: BBC

They are reportedly “subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as sexual and physical abuse, forced labor, and death.”

Reports by the scholar Adrian Zenz for the Jamestown Foundation and Associated Press say that China is engaging in essentially forced population control, including abortions and sterilization, and analysts say China’s actions in Xinjiang constitute the legal definition of genocide.

All the claims have been denied by Mr Cui. He said that there have been any mechanisms such as sterilization or any attempts at forced population control of the Uyghurs.

South China Sea

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that America rejects most of China’s claims over the South China Sea. China considers almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea its sovereign territory. In recent years, Beijing has built up military fortifications on several islands there.

An international tribunal in The Hague in 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute, where the ruling concluded China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the sea.

US Navy aircraft carriers resume rare exercises in the South China Sea2
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Force composed of the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike groups. Source: US Navy

China’s ambassador to the US Mr Cui said China “will not participate in such a ruling” and it was “not based on very solid, legal ground.”