China accuses US of ‘seriously’ damaging bilateral trust

President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

China’s foreign minister on Friday accused the United States of “seriously” damaging trust between the two countries amid tensions over human rights in Xinjiang and protests in Hong Kong.

The two countries have been locked in a trade dispute for almost two years, while rights issues in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang and Hong Kong have further strained diplomatic relations.

The United States has “seriously damaged the foundation of hard-earned trust between China and the US,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Speaking at a symposium on international affairs in Beijing, Wang said that Washington was “suppressing” China across a number of fields, including the economy, trade and technology.

The US has “deliberately attacked and discredited China on issues of national sovereignty and dignity,” he added.

Last month, Washington drew the ire of the Chinese government by enacting a law supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where six months of increasingly violent demonstrations have rocked the semi-autonomous financial hub.

It is the starkest challenge the city has presented to Beijing since its 1997 handover from Britain, which guaranteed freedoms unseen on the mainland — rights that activists say are being eroded.

In retaliation, China last week imposed sanctions on US-based NGOs in the financial centre and suspended future visits by US warships to the semi-autonomous territory.

Beijing has also threatened even more punitive action pending the enactment of a Uighur rights bill in the US, which could sanction officials behind the mass detention of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

On the trade war front, President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that the two countries were “very close” to finalising a deal to de-escalate their dispute.

But Beijing declined to confirm a deal was imminent.

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