China warns of Tiananmen-style reaction to coronavirus: report | USA News

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Chinese internal report warns that Beijing is facing a growing wave of hostility in the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic, which could turn relations with the United States into a confrontation, sources close to the newspaper said. Reuters news agency.

The report, presented early last month by the State Security Ministry to key Beijing leaders, including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest level since the crackdown on 1989 in Tiananmen Square, the sources said.

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As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and must be prepared in the worst case for an armed confrontation between the two world powers, according to people familiar with the content of the report, which declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.

The report was written by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s main intelligence agency.

Reuters did not see the information document, but it was described by people who had direct knowledge of its findings.

“I have no relevant information,” said the office of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in a statement responding to Reuters’ questions about the report.

The Chinese State Security Ministry has no contact details and could not be reached for comment.

The CICIR, an influential think tank that until 1980 was part of the State Security Ministry and advises the Chinese government on foreign and security policy, did not respond to a request for comment.

Threats of a backlash

Reuters has not been able to determine to what extent the rigorous assessment described in the document reflects the positions held by Chinese heads of state and to what extent, if any, it would influence policy.

But the report’s presentation shows how seriously Beijing takes the threat of a construction backlash that could threaten what China sees as its strategic foreign investments and its vision of its security position.

Relations between China and the United States are generally considered to be at their worst level in decades, with increased distrust and sticking points, from allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and disputed territories in the South China Sea.

China - Beijing

China-US relations are generally considered to be at their worst level in decades[[[[Tingshu Wang / Reuters]

In recent days, President Donald Trump, faced with a more difficult re-election campaign as the coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of American lives and ravaged the American economy, has intensified its criticism of Beijing and threatened new tariffs on China. His administration, meanwhile, is planning retaliatory measures against China during the epidemic, officials said.

It is widely accepted in Beijing that the United States wants to contain a rising China, which has become more assertive on a global scale as its economy has grown.

The newspaper concluded that Washington views China’s rise as a threat to economic and national security and a challenge for western democracies, the people said. The report also indicates that the United States aims to undermine the ruling Communist Party by undermining public confidence.

Chinese officials have “special responsibility” to inform their people and the world of the coronavirus threat “since they were first informed,” US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. in response to questions from Reuters.

Without directly addressing the assessment made in the Chinese report, Ortagus added: “Beijing’s efforts to silence scientists, journalists and citizens and spread disinformation have exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis.”

A spokesperson for the United States National Security Council declined to comment.

Implications

Reuters report warns that anti-Chinese sentiment for coronavirus could fuel resistance to belt and road infrastructure investment projects in China and that Washington may step up financial and military support for allies regional, making the security situation in Asia more volatile.

Three decades ago, in the aftermath of Tiananmen, the United States and many Western governments imposed sanctions against China, including banning or restricting arms sales and technology transfer.

China is much more powerful these days.

Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping seen in April inspecting a primary school in northwest China [File: Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP Photo]

Xi overhauled China’s military strategy to create a fighting force equipped to win modern wars. It extends China’s air and naval reach in a challenge to more than 70 years of American military rule in Asia.

In the statement, the Chinese foreign ministry called for cooperation, saying, “The sound and steady development of Sino-US relations” serves the interests of both countries and the international community.

He added: “Any words or actions that engage in political manipulation or stigma under the pretext of the pandemic, including the possibility of sowing discord between countries, are not conducive to international cooperation against the pandemic. . “

Echoes of the Cold War

One of those familiar with the report said it was viewed by some members of the Chinese intelligence community as the Chinese version of the “Novikov Telegram”, a 1946 dispatch from the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Nikolai Novikov , which highlighted the dangers of the economy and military ambition in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Novikov’s missive was a response to the “Long Telegram” by American diplomat George Kennan of Moscow who declared that the Soviet Union did not see the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the West and that confinement was the best strategy to long term.

The two documents helped to prepare the ground for the strategic thinking that defined both sides of the Cold War.

China has been accused by the United States of suppressing the first information on the virus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan, and of minimizing its risks.

Beijing has repeatedly denied hiding the extent or severity of the virus epidemic.

China has managed to contain the national spread of the virus and has tried to assert a leading role in the global battle against COVID-19. This included a propaganda push around his donations and the sale of medical supplies in the United States and other countries and the sharing of expertise.

But China is facing a growing reaction from critics who have called for holding Beijing accountable for its role in the pandemic.

Trump said he would cut funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), which he called “very China-centric,” which WHO officials have denied.

The Australian government has called for an international investigation into the origins and spread of the virus.

Last month, France summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest a publication on the Chinese embassy website criticizing Western manipulation of the coronavirus.

The virus has so far infected more than three million people worldwide and killed more than 250,000 people worldwide.

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