Ever since the US arms sales to Taiwan, the American administration has been trying to undermine relations, the deputy head of Chinese Embassy in Israel said in a special interview with Ynet on the heels of the dispute that has unraveled between China and the United States.
While the US is trying to garner Chinese support to impose sanctions on Iran, the Chinese official said that the recent tensions could harm political cooperation.
Zhang Xiao'an outlined to Ynet the Chinese perspective on the slump in ties between the US and China. She mentioned that in several occasions, China's ties with new American president usually don't start off so well, but gradually improve with time.
She said that now, there is an opposite process – after Obama was elected last year, ties between China and the United States got off on the right foot, and ever since the recent developments have been deteriorating.
US President Barack Obama visited Beijing last November and met with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jinato. The visit was meant to improve ties between the two countries, but a line of disputes between the two superpowers followed instead.
This includes a dispute over the US-Taiwan weapons deal, the Dalai Lama's planned visit in Washington, matters pertaining to trade, exchange rates, human rights and the Google affair.
Zhang said that she hoped the US would stands behind Obama's statements in China, who vowed that his country would respect China's interests and that the sensitive problems and issues would be solved via dialogue and cooperation.
Obama declared on his first day in office that he plans to boost ties with China, and went so far as to say that by the end of 2009, the situation would be "better than ever".
Obama and Hu Jinato in November 2009 (Photo: AP)
Danger in sanctions
Zhang addressed the issue of China's objection to imposing sanctions on Iran and noted that her country supports the international stance against the development of Iranian nuclear weapons. She added that nevertheless, each country has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which is applies for Iran as well.
According to Zhang, sanctions against Iran could achieve the opposite of the intended effect in pushing the Islamic Republic into a corner from which it will be hard to go back.
She noted that sanctions could also lead to a conflict and therefore China supports a different approach based on dialogue and consultation. She pointed to the situation in Iraq as an example of the usefulness of such steps and noted that many countries in the UN have realized that sanctions won't work.
Zhang does not believe the recent tensions with Washington will reflect on relations with Israel, which she described as good. She said that the tensions relate to outside factors and noted that China has good relations with Iran. Zhang further added that Beijing strives for positive relations with all countries.
The Chinese are trying to avoid using the word crisis in describing their relations with the US. Zhang said that there have been ups and downs to the relationship throughout the years but stressed that despite occasional differences in opinion there is also cooperation between the countries.
Anti-ballistic missiles in Taiwan (Photo: AP)
China claims to sovereignty over Taiwan which runs an independent regime supported by the West and US since 1949. Zhang stressed that the Taiwan issue has always been the most important and the most sensitive, and could create obstacles. She noted that the US and China have agreed to respect each other's interests and that the matter of Taiwan is one of sovereignty and territorial integrity which the US should respect.
The US has recently decided to sell arms to Taiwan, which prompted Chinese protest. Zhang said that the US's decision amounts to a harsh violation of the common principles between the two countries and noted that the Chinese people could not accept such conduct.
The Chinese envoy further added that the deal has undermined the relations and may effect political cooperation.
She said that China has decided to halt the exchange of military programs with the US, postpone security strategy consultation and impose sanctions on the American companies involved in the arms sale to Taiwan.
In respect to the crisis with Google, the Chinese diplomat rejected criticism on web censorship. She noted that the Chinese internet was open and that the country is rated first in the world in terms of internet use with its 384 million net surfers. She further added that China has 3.69 million websites and over 180 million bloggs.
Zhang believes the matter is a commercial issue turned political. She stated that China's policy was to develop the internet and pointed to data which illustrate the speed of development.
Nevertheless, she stressed that any company, local or foreign must obey the Chinese law and said the issue was also one of respect for local culture in addition the legal aspect.