Amid deteriorating relations between the United States and China, Beijing has issued a threat saying that any attempt by Washington to breach the 'red line' on Taiwan will result in 'catastrophic consequences'.
Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Taiwan is the 'first red line' for China and the US must not try to cross it.
"If the United States does not hit the brake, and continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailment, which will become conflict and confrontation and who will bear the catastrophic consequences?" the foreign minister said, according to Reuters.
A host of factors have roiled the already tense relations between China and the US. Beijing was offended by the shooting down of an aerial object that it says was a weather balloon last month. On the other side, the US is alarmed about the prospect of China stepping up its support for Russia by supplying heavy weapons. Though China denies any such plan, the US and its allies foresee a dangerous tilt in the balance of power if China steps in and supplies lethal weapons to Russia.
Washington is also nervous about frequent Chinese military show of strength near Taiwan. The foreign minister reiterated that Taiwan is an integral part of China and Beijing will take all measures to achieve reunification with the island. On Taiwan, the Chinese grouse is that the US is adopting a needlessly aggressive path.
"The United States' perception and views of China are seriously distorted ... It regards China as its primary rival and the most consequential geopolitical challenge. This is like the first button in the shirt being put wrong," Qin said.
"The United States talks a lot about following rules, but imagine two athletes competing in the Olympic race .... If one side, instead of focusing on giving one's best, always tries to trip or even into the other. That is not fair competition, but malicious confrontation and a foul," the foreign minister added.
The Chinese foreign minister took strong exception to the US and European allegation that Beijing is planning to supply strategic weapons to Russia. "(China) is not a party to the crisis and has not provided weapons to either side of the conflict. So on what basis is this talk of blame, sanctions and threats against China? This is absolutely unacceptable," the minister said.
Going further, Qin levelled a serious allegation against the US, saying that some powers are working to protract the Ukraine war. Without naming the US or any of its allies, Qin said the 'invisible hand' is using the Ukraine crisis to serve certain geopolitical agendas.
"Conflict, sanctions, and pressure will not solve the problem ... The process of peace talks should begin as soon as possible, and the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be respected the minister added. .