China urges cooperation after U.S. brands it a competitor

BEIJING (Reuters) - Cooperation between China and the United States will lead to a win-win outcome for both sides, but confrontation will bring mutual losses, China said on Tuesday, after the United States branded it a competitor seeking to challenge U.S. power.

A U.S. flag is seen during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

China hopes the United States can abandon its mentality of zero-sum games and seek common ground while respecting differences, China’s U.S. embassy said on its website.

“On the basis of mutual respect, China is willing to exist peacefully with other countries including the United States,” it said. “But the U.S. ought to adapt to, and accept, China’s development.”

China has always been a contributor to global development and a protector of the international order, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said later in Beijing.

“Cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States,” she said, adding that it was not surprising for the two to have disagreements but that they should find constructive ways to handle them.

China’s economic and diplomatic activities around the world are broadly welcomed and no country or report will succeed in distorting the facts or deploying malicious slander, she told a daily news briefing.

As the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States have a responsibility to protect global peace and stability and promote global prosperity, Hua added.

“We urge the U.S. side to stop intentionally distorting China’s strategic intentions.”

In a new national security strategy based on U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” vision on Monday, the United States lumped China and Russia together as competitors seeking to erode U.S. security and prosperity.

The singling out of China and Russia as “revisionist powers” comes despite Trump’s own attempts to build strong relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the two sides seek to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The new U.S. strategy reflects an unwillingness to accept the reality of China’s rise, the state-run Global Times said in an editorial.

“But because of the enormous size and strength China has already achieved, they won’t be able to suppress China,” the widely-read newspaper said.

However, Trump was basically reiterating his standard line on China rather than threatening any specific action, said Shi Yinhong, head of the Centre for American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University.

“Since he took office the Chinese government’s line on Trump has always been: Don’t really look at what he says, but look at what he does,” said Shi, who has advised the government on diplomacy.

“So the strong words against China in the report the Chinese government won’t really care about.”

A senior U.S. administration official said China was attempting to revise the global status quo through its aggression in the South China Sea.

China says its expansion of islets in the South China Sea is for peaceful purposes only and it can, in any case, do what it wants, as it has irrefutable sovereignty there.

The U.S. administration also warned that intellectual property theft by China was a national security problem.

Reporting by Ryan Woo and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Gao Liangping; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez