By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States would do better to look at its own domestic problems like gun violence rather than turning its ire on China, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday, lambasting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for a critical speech on China.
Pence on Thursday accused China of curtailing “rights and liberties” in Hong Kong and blasted U.S. company Nike and the National Basketball Association for falling in line with Beijing in a disagreement over free speech.
In a policy speech on China that touched on an array of disputes ahead of talks with Beijing to ease a trade war, Pence said the United States does not seek confrontation or to “de-couple” from its main economic rival.
But he pulled no punches when addressing some of the political rifts between the two countries, praising Chinese-claimed Taiwan as a beacon of democracy and criticising China for its treatment of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Pence’s speech was full of lies and prejudice, and that it had made China “strongly indignant”.
China is resolute in defending its sovereignty and security, and will never allow anyone to interfere in its internal affairs over Hong Kong, Taiwan or Xinjiang, she added.
“A handful of politicians with Pence at their head have confused black with white on these issues, making irresponsible remarks and creating rumours to slander others,” Hua said.
Pence is “easily arrogant” about other countries, and yet turns a blind eye to the ills of his own country, instead trying to shift the focus of the American public onto other nations, she added.
“From the large-scale monitoring of the ‘Prismgate’ to frequent and serious shootings, from ubiquitous racial discrimination to the gap between the rich and the poor that is obvious at a glance, from sanctions against other countries, arbitrary withdrawal from international agreements, treaties, and misconduct, morality and trust have long since disappeared.”
Certain people in the United States need to take a good long look at themselves in the mirror, recognise their own problems and manage their own affairs properly, Hua said.
Despite the ministry’s harsh tone, influential Chinese state-backed newspaper the Global Times said in an editorial that while Pence reiterated many of his previous criticisms, there was still “room for optimism”.
“He emphasised the U.S. does not want to ‘decouple’ and repeated how U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to start a new future with China,” it said.
“He also underlined the friendship between Chinese President Xi and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Angus MacSwan)