Chinese President Xi Jinping recently singled out the United States for a rare denouncement with echoes of the Cold War as relations between the two countries have plunged to a historic low.
Xi declared in a speech that the “external environment” for China is increasingly “uncertain and unpredictable,” particularly due to the U.S. spearheading a strategy of “containment” – a term that described anti-Communist strategies during the Cold War, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“Western countries—led by the U.S.—have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development,” Xi said, according to a translation published by the Wall Street Journal.
President Joe Biden’s administration has previously disclosed similar-sounding policies toward China. Discussing a classified strategy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last year that “we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system,” as reported by the New York Times.
Xi’s jab against the U.S. was more pointed than usual. Lower-level political officials and state media are known to blast the U.S. directly, but China’s top leader typically cloaks his comments, for example by referring only to “certain” countries, as reported by the Journal.
The same day Xi made that remark, his newly-appointed foreign minister, Qin Gang, warned that the U.S. was inviting “conflict and confrontation” with its current policies and said “the future of humanity” could be at risk, Politico reported.
Xi’s remark came Monday amid a high-level government gathering called the Two Sessions, which includes the annual meetings of China’s rubber-stamp parliament and its top political advisory body.
There were no references to the U.S. or “containment” in the English-language version of Xi’s remarks reported by Xinhua.
U.S. relations with China have been souring for years, but have recently hit dramatic lows, particularly over Taiwan, a self-governing island China claims as its own, and the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the U.S. in February.
Biden has maintained that he seeks competition, not conflict, with China, saying in a recent public address: “We’re not looking for a new Cold War.”