China launched a scathing attack on the U.S. and NATO on Wednesday, days before a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s comments underscore the increasingly fractious relationship, along with China’s increasingly confrontational approach to foreign relations that heatedly rejects criticism.
At last week’s NATO summit in Spain, Blinken accused China of “seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.”
In his comments Wednesday, Zhao said the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the U.S. self-interest.”
Washington “observes international rules only as it sees fit,” he said, adding that NATO “must renounce its blind faith in military might.”
U.S.-China relations are dominated by disputes over issues from trade and human rights to Taiwan and Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, China has refused to condemn Russia’s four-month-long war against Ukraine, criticized sanctions brought against Moscow by NATO members and accused Washington and its allies of provoking the conflict.
Russia and China have strengthened political, economic and military ties, while aligning their foreign policies to oppose the influence of liberal democracies. Weeks before Russia’s February invasion, Chinese leader Xi Jinping hosted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for a meeting at which they pledged a partnership that had “no limits.”
At its summit, NATO for the first time singled out China as one of its strategic priorities for the next decade.
“China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan … monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after presenting NATO’s 10-year Strategic Concept.
In his comments at Wednesday's daily briefing, Zhao said the U.S. “has been working closely with NATO to hype up competition with China and stoke group confrontation."
“The history of NATO is the one about creating conflicts and waging wars … arbitrarily launching wars and killing innocent civilians, even to this day," Zhao said. “Facts have proven that it is not China that poses a systemic challenge to NATO, and instead it is NATO that brings a looming systemic challenge to world peace and security."
Blinken is expected to meet with Wang on Saturday at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations on the Indonesian island of Bali.