China Condemns US’s Overcapacity Claim Just Before Blinken Visit

(Bloomberg) -- China launched its harshest attack to date on US complaints about industrial overcapacity, signaling that Secretary of State Antony Blinken may be in for some difficult conversations during his visit this week.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The US accusation contains “the malicious intention of curbing and suppressing China’s industrial development, aiming to seek a more favorable competitive position and market advantage,” a Chinese diplomat said at a recent briefing, according to a Foreign Ministry statement released Tuesday.

“It is naked economic coercion and bullying,” added the official in the ministry’s North America department whose name wasn’t given.

China rarely holds such briefings just before top US officials visit. Blinken is set to travel to the Asian nation from Wednesday to Friday.

Read More: China Braces for Worst as It Becomes Punching Bag in US Election

The trip comes as several issues test a stabilization of ties, which frayed last year following accusations that China flew a spy balloon over the US. While campaigning last week, President Joe Biden blasted Beijing as “xenophobic” and vowed to triple tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum exports.

Read More: US Commander Warns China Fast Becoming More Aggressive in Region

Washington also opened a probe into the nation’s shipbuilding sector, and Congress has fast-tracked efforts to force TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent, ByteDance Ltd. Blinken’s visit also coincides with the US and Philippines conducting military exercises near the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan.

China’s response to the moves has been relatively muted. Yet, the remarks by the Foreign Ministry official suggest some irritation on Beijing’s part is mounting.

“The US is stubbornly advancing its strategy to contain China, and continues to use wrong words and deeds that interfere in China’s internal affairs, smear China’s image and harm China’s interests,” the Chinese diplomat said. “We firmly oppose and counteract this.”

The person said Beijing and Washington needed to effectively manage their disagreements.

Blinken’s first trip to China since mid-2023 comes on the heels of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to Beijing earlier this month, and the first phone call between China’s new defense minister and his US counterpart.

A senior US official said earlier that Blinken will spell out how Chinese companies’ backing for Russia’s war machine is impacting European security. China hasn’t crossed the US red line of offering lethal assistance to Russia in the form of weapons or munitions.

Read More: Blinken to Call Out China Over Its Russia Support During Visit

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Washington is preparing sanctions that would sever the access of certain banks in China to the world’s financial system. The move would be aimed at curbing Beijing’s commercial support of Moscow.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin repeated at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that his country “is not a party to the Ukraine crisis.”

“We will never fan the flames nor seek selfish gains,” he said. “We will certainly not accept being the scapegoat.”

Read More: US Firms Still Cautious About Investing in China, AmCham Says

--With assistance from James Mayger.

(Updates with comment from China’s Foreign Ministry.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.