Amid Ukraine crisis, China issues fresh warning for US; BRICS bank put on hold all new transactions in Russia

Beijing is faced with a major political and trade onslaught from the US, European Union and their allies over a host of issues including human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo| AP)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo| AP)

BEIJING: The US should not regard China as a strategic rival and stoke confrontation because of its economic progress and development, a senior Chinese official said on Friday.

To use China's development as an excuse and take China as a strategic rival will only erode the mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries, and will eventually hurt own interests of the United States, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson of China's Parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), told a media briefing here.

The Biden administration, which treats China as a strategic competitor, has made it clear that the most effective way for America to out-compete a more assertive and authoritarian China over the long-term is to invest in its people, its economy and its democracy.

Beijing is faced with a major political and trade onslaught from the US, European Union and their allies over a host of issues including human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

China is also riled by the US providing political support as well as supplying advanced weapons to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as part of it and vows to integrate with the mainland.

The NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) began their over week-long annual sessions here on Friday.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang attended the opening ceremony of the CPPCC.

The NPC begins its proceedings on Saturday.

Answering a question about the deteriorating China-US ties, Zhang said the practices of drawing lines based on ideology, forming exclusive circles and stoking confrontation between blocs all go against the trend of the times and will lead to nowhere.

Stable ties between China and the United States are good for the development of both sides, and conducive to maintaining international peace and effectively responding to climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges, Zhang said.

He also lashed out at Lithuania for permitting 'Taiwanese Representative Office', which, he said, went against its commitment to one-China policy.

The one-China principle is the political foundation for China to develop bilateral relations with all countries, Zhang said.

He also defended China's Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, saying that it is a defensive measure to counter "containment and oppression".

Noting that it is a common practice in many countries to respond to foreign sanctions, interference and long-arm jurisdiction through legislation, Zhang said that the law is a special one with "countering" being an outstanding feature.

China has been invoking the law to impose counter-sanctions against the US.

"China does not seek to provoke trouble, nor will it cringe should any trouble come its way," he said.

The New Development Bank (NDB) of the BRICS bloc has put all new transactions in Russia on hold citing the "unfolding uncertainties and restrictions", amidst the Ukraine crisis.

The NDB's move came a day after the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) put on hold all its projects in Russia and its ally Belarus.

"The New Development Bank (NDB) applies sound banking principles in all its operations, as stated in its Articles of Agreement", a statement by the bank posted on its website on Thursday said.

"In light of unfolding uncertainties and restrictions, NDB has put new transactions in Russia on hold", it said.

"NDB will continue to conduct business in full conformity with the highest compliance standards as an international institution", it said.

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

On Thursday, the China-based AIIB put on hold all its projects in Russia and its ally Belarus.

The bank's decision was regarded as noteworthy considering that Russia is its third-largest shareholder.

India is the second-largest shareholder after China.

Former RBI Governor Urjit Patel is the Vice President for Investment Operations of Beijing headquartered in AIIB.

The bank is headed by former Chinese Vice Minister for Finance, Jin Liqun.

"Our Bank is actively monitoring the situation and assessing its impact on AIIB's operations and our members' economies" as the Ukraine war unfolded, a press release posted on the bank's website said.

"We, the Management, will do our utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB, against the backdrop of the evolving economic and financial situation," it said.

"Under these circumstances, and in the best interests of the Bank, Management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review," the release said.

The bank has financed several projects in Russia and Belarus.

Explaining its decision to put the projects in Russia on hold, the AIIB said it is a multilateral organisation created by an international treaty, and adherence to international law lies at the very core of our institution".

"AIIB Management believes that multilateralism provides the best framework for countries to cooperate in dealing with common challenges and supporting development," it said.

"As the war in Ukraine unfolds, AIIB extends its thoughts and sympathy to everyone affected. Our hearts go out to all who are suffering," it said.

"AIIB stands ready to extend financing flexibly and quickly and support members who have been adversely impacted by the war, directly or indirectly," the release said.

"Economic spillover from commodity price shocks, financial market volatility and other factors may adversely impact our members' economic situation.

We will work closely with our partner multilateral organisations to provide any needed support expeditiously," it said.

On Wednesday, the World Bank announced that it will stop all its programmes in Russia and Belarus with "immediate effect" in response to Moscow's military operations in Ukraine and "hostilities" against the people of the war-torn country.

A large number of countries, organisations and businesses are severing ties and have imposed sanctions on Russia over the country's invasion of Ukraine, and with Belarus for its support and cooperation with Moscow.

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