Washington is a “master of coercion”, said Beijing after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that China’s trade sanctions on Australia have backfired on it and that the communist regime lost more than Canberra in its efforts to squeeze Australia economically. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, said that the label of “economic coercion” cannot be pinned on China. He added that all attempts to gang up with others to “mispresent” facts and resort to malicious hyper-up are bound to fail.

Notably, Zhao’s remarks come after Blinken, in an interview with Australian media outlets, said that China’s trade sanctions on Canberra have backfired and by standing up to Beijing, Australia set an “incredibly powerful example” for the world. “I think China has lost more than Australia has in its efforts to squeeze Australia economically,” Blinken said, adding that Beijing would be “thinking twice about this in the future”.

Following Blinken’s remarks, Zhao said that with regard to coercion, no one has a better claim to the title of master of coercion than the US. “Speaking of coercion, the US government forced the military government of Haiti to step down in 1994, and referred to that as a textbook example of coercive diplomacy,” said Zhao. He also went on to state that in 2003, the US explicitly characterised $30.3 billion additional military expenses for “coercive diplomacy” as incurred expenses.

“The US government went all out to hobble competitors like Huawei of China, Alstom of France and Toshiba of Japan and used coercion to force the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), Samsung and other companies to provide chip supply chain data. These are textbook examples of economic coercion,” Zhao Lijian said.

“I would like to reiterate that China always proceeds from the lawful rights and interests of domestic industries and the safety of consumers,” said Zhao, adding: “Beijing adopts appropriate measures on imported products in strict compliance with Chinese laws and regulations as well as WTO rules. This is fully justified, lawful and beyond reproach.”

China raises concern over AUKUS deal

Meanwhile, on Friday, China also raised grave concern over the AUKUS deal and said it would further escalate regional tension, provoke an arms race, and will threaten regional peace and stability. In a series of tweets, Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming said that the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced last year undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. The Chinese official said several countries expressed grave concern over the possible repercussions of the AUKUS deal.

“In disregard of the international community’s concerns, the AUKUS have obstinately advanced nuclear submarine deal. This fully exposes their double standards and will have a profound negative impact on the resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,” said the Chinese official.

(With inputs from ANI)