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Tensions escalate as China accuses US of Cold War mentality amid military talks

United States: One week after their top military officials began high-level talks, China’s defense ministry blasted the United States on Thursday, accusing it of maintaining a “Cold War” mentality and criticizing its ongoing intervention in the Asia-Pacific region.

During the negotiations, both sides committed to working toward reestablishing contact to prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations; the United States specifically requested “more work” to guarantee that military connections remained dependable and open.

However, at the final regular press conference of the year, a spokesman for the Chinese defense ministry adopted a more assertive tone, according to reports by Reuters.

“The United States continues to strengthen its Asia-Pacific deployments; this is full of a Cold War mindset,” the spokesperson, Wu Qian, said on Thursday.

“Its goal is for its own selfish gains and to maintain its hegemony. Its nature is to stoke confrontation,” Qian added. 

The United States and China held their first videoconference in almost a year last week, with top US General Charles Brown and General Liu Zhenli. American officials had hoped the meeting would lead to a wider mending of military ties.

These discussions came after the leaders of the two nations agreed in San Francisco last month to restore their diplomatic relations, which Beijing had broken following Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, travel to Taiwan, which was governed by self-determination.

To support the healthy and steady growth of the China-US military-to-military cooperation, Beijing wanted Washington to “take concrete actions on the basis of equality and respect,” he continued, with details to be revealed later.

Manipulating Taiwan

Taiwan is scheduled to have a crucial presidential election on January 13. Wu claimed that the government of Taiwan was purposefully “hyping up” a military threat from China to win votes. He warned the United States not to meddle in Taiwanese domestic issues, including arming the democratic island nation.

“We firmly oppose any country having official and military contact with Taiwan in any form. The US is manipulating the Taiwan question in various forms, which is a very dangerous gamble,” Wu said, according to Reuters. “We urge the US to stop arming Taiwan under any excuses or by any means,” he added.

The Defense Ministry of Taiwan stated this week that although it was closely monitoring China, it was not observing any indications of significant military action by the Chinese prior to the elections.

Wu also pointed fingers at the US for the escalating hostilities in the South China Sea, which have occurred since China and the Philippines clashed near the Spratly Islands.

Amid larger connections strengthened under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the US has supported Manila in its maritime disputes with China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and US President Joe Biden (right) | Credits: Reuters

“The US, out of its selfish calculations, has been conniving at and emboldening the Philippines, attempting to coerce and threaten China,” Wu stated.

A military spokesman for the Philippines refuted China’s charge this week that his nation is inciting unrest in the area.

Regarding domestic matters, Wu refrained from commenting on the expulsion from China’s top political advisory body of three executives from prestigious aerospace defense companies earlier this week. “I refer you to the competent national authorities,” he said when asked about the reason behind the removals.

The executives are from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which is the country’s principal space program contractor and missile system builder; Norinco, a significant Chinese defense contractor; and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), which is the country’s largest missile manufacturer.

As previously reported by Reuters, former defense minister Li Shangfu is under investigation for improper military procurement because of an anti-corruption crackdown in the upper echelons of the People’s Liberation Army.

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has also been in the news lately due to the abrupt replacement of its two top leaders with commanders from outside the force at the end of July.

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