Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has blamed the US for seriously damaging bilateral trust by slamming Beijing over Hong Kong and Muslim Uighurs.
“Such behaviour is almost paranoid, and is indeed rare in international exchanges, seriously damaging the hard-won foundation of mutual trust between China and the United States, and seriously weakening the United States’ international credibility,” Wang pointed out.
He pledged that China will “resolutely fight against external forces that interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs” and “sever the black hands” supporting protests there.
Wang accused the US of using various international events in order to bash China’s social system, development path, and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries.
The remarks come a few weeks after China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad to demand that Washington stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs.
Hong Kong Protests
This followed US President Donald Trump signing laws that ban the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong police.
Hong Kong has been facing a wave of rallies against a now-withdrawn extradition bill since June, with the protests eventually escalating into violent confrontations between demonstrators and the police.
Beijing says that the situation in Hong Kong is a direct result of foreign interference in China's domestic affairs, expressing full support for the local authorities' actions.
The developments come against the background of the ongoing trade row between Beijing and Washington which erupted in June 2018, when the US imposed the first round of tariffs on Chinese imports, prompting Beijing to respond in kind.
In his latest move, Trump tweeted that the US and China are on the verge of signing a “big deal” on bilateral trade. This was preceded by US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien saying that Washington wants a trade agreement with Beijing, but that it won't turn a blind eye to the situation in Hong Kong.
Alleged Human Rights Violations in Uighur Region
In a separate development, the US Department of State imposed visa restrictions against senior Chinese officials in October over allegations of human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
In an August 2018 report, UN experts on the elimination of racial discrimination said that up to 1 million ethnic Uyghurs are thought to be detained in so-called re-education camps.
Beijing has repeatedly denied the existence of such camps, claiming that the unsubstantiated accusations are connected to what it insists are vocational colleges set up as part of counter-terrorist efforts in the region.