China has accused the United States of conducting “coercive diplomacy”, after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made similar comments during a briefing with his Australian counterpart.
"I reiterated that the United States will not leave Australia alone on the field, or maybe I should say alone on the pitch, in the face of economic coercion by China," Blinken said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said it was the US which has been imposing economic sanctions to achieve its goals.
“Coercive diplomacy is a speciality of the United States, which has provided the world with classic textbooks and cases of coercive diplomacy through its policies and actions,” Hua said at a daily briefing.
Hua pointed out that Chinese telecommunications and other high-tech industries are falling victim to “economic coercion”.
US-China relations were marred by the tariff war and tensions surrounding tech giants Huawei and ZTE, with the Trump administration repeatedly accusing the companies of cooperating with Chinese intelligence to help Beijing to spy, which Chinese authorities and the companies denied.
Things have not gotten much better since Biden’s administration took office, with the US Commerce Department announcing last month that seven Chinese supercomputing companies were "destabilising military modernisation efforts" and adding them to the "Entity List for conducting activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States".
“There are now a growing number of people in the United States who are calling for strengthened dialogue and cooperation with China and urging the two countries to work toward each other to improve relations. They believe that a healthy, stable and sustained US-China relationship is in the interest of the people of both countries,” Hua said.
Blinken made his remarks at a press conference with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, the third foreign minister, after Italy’s and Jordan’s, to visit Washington DC since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Australian-Chinese relations have been deteriorating for several years now. In 2018, Australia became the first country to ban China's tech giant Huawei from its national 5G network, while last year, the country called for an independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission announced that Beijing had decided to indefinitely suspend the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue over what it describes as a disruption of normal exchanges and cooperation. The move came after last month the Australian government dismantled a Belt and Road deal between Beijing and the state of Victoria, and last week Canberra said that a Chinese company's 99-year-lease on Darwin Port was under review.