China’s national security issues – from Taiwan to the South China Sea and food security – might be at stake as the United States magnifies the trade war, according to some of Beijing’s most proficient US hands.
Beijing has long asserted that national interests were at the heart of its main differences with Washington in the trade talks but it had not stated them publicly.
But at a forum in Beijing on Friday, Zhou Wenchong, China’s ambassador to the US from 2005 to 2010, said the major problem was whether the US could acknowledge and agree with “the development and thriving of a socialist China”.
“Some people in [US President Donald Trump’s] government would like to see the conflict increase beyond trade to technology and people-to-people exchanges, and from politics to national security, particularly on issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea,” said Zhou.
“[These are] China’s core interests and sensitive areas, and we will make the necessary reactions.”
Participants at the seminar included numerous former senior officials with a lot of experience with American political and business leaders.
The event comes after unsuccessful trade talks earlier this month and criticisms from US officials that China backtracked on promises.
But Zeng Peiyan, former Politburo member and vice-premier, told the forum that the US reneged on its commitments in the negotiations.
“The US went back on their promises and raised tariffs amid the talks, causing the disputes over trade to escalate once again … China will never compromise on its principles. We will continue to stand firm in safeguarding our national sovereignty and core interests,” Zeng said.