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China takes aim at Mattis over comments: ‘US has fabricated lies’

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis meets with China's Minister of Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe at the People's Liberation Army's Bayi Building in Beijing, China, on June 28, 2018. (Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)
October 18, 2018

China has publicly denounced comments made by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis regarding their economic approach.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a press conference, “The U.S. has fabricated lies time and again and made irresponsible remarks out of its political needs, which is very disappointing,” according to his official remarks made Wednesday.

Kang blamed the U.S. for failing to assist the smaller, developing countries without attaching “political strings.”

“If it cannot meet that hope, should at least refrain from obstructing others from assisting these developing countries, even less hurting the benefits of these people to serve its own political needs. This is just immoral,” he said.

The comments appear to be directly countering remarks made by Mattis while en route to Vietnam on Monday.

“We look at the – what we consider to be almost predatory – in some cases certainly predatory economic behavior, where massive debt is piled on countries that fiscal analysis would say they are going to have difficulty, at best, repaying in the smaller countries,” Mattis told reporters, according to the Department of Defense transcript.

Mattis preceded his remarks by noting “We are cooperating where possible with China … We’re not out to contain China.”

Kang challenging the “predatory” label of China’s economic pursuits, saying China has partnered with smaller countries to help with their infrastructure and financing needs while mutually benefitting.

“We know their pressing needs and have conducted mutually beneficial cooperation with these countries under the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and provided assistance much needed to developing countries with no political strings attached based on our own experience,” Kang said.

China has made notable investments in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan with ports and a naval base. In Sri Lanka, China financed port construction until the small country defaulted, prompting China to assume control of the port.

“The U.S. has constantly made an issue out of the so-called debt problem in disregard of facts,” Kang said. “The truth is that, in the relevant regions and countries the US side and certain media have frequently cited to play up the issue, only a small proportion of their debts is incurred by cooperation projects with China and we have never heard of any single country fallen into ‘debt traps’ due to its cooperation with China.”

“The U.S. attempt to pin a false label on China is just unpopular,” Kang continued. “We urge the US side to put in perspective China’s cooperation with other developing countries. Moreover, we would like to see the US making more useful contributions to the development of developing countries instead of sowing discords.”