A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves it with no credibility to criticize China, following Vice President Kamala Harris’ rebukes of the country on Tuesday.
The U.S. “can smear, suppress, coerce, and bully other countries at will in order to maintain America first, without paying any price,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference hours later, the Associated Press reported.
“This is the order that the U.S. wants. The U.S. always tries to make use of the rules and order to justify its own selfish, bullying and hegemonic behavior, but who still believe it now?” he said.
“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” Harris said in a speech laying out President Joe Biden’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. “Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.”
Vice President Kamala Harris accused Beijing of continuing to ‘coerce’ and ‘intimidate’ in the South China Sea and pledged that Washington would pursue a free and open Indo Pacific https://t.co/MqbplVclt6 pic.twitter.com/BsqVmhYHKn— Reuters (@Reuters) August 24, 2021
Other Chinese officials went after the U.S. over Afghanistan throughout the withdrawal.
“Under the banner of democracy and human rights the U.S. and other countries carry out military interventions in other sovereign states and impose their own model on countries with vastly different history and culture,” causing “great suffering,” he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that “wherever the U.S. sets foot … we see turbulence, division, broken families, deaths and other scars in the mess it has left,” while fellow spokesman Zhao Lijian compared Kabul to the fall of Saigon, the BBC reported.
Harris‘ tour through Southeast Asia is intended to solidify U.S. dedication to allies in the region, but was complicated by the tumultuous withdrawal, the AP reported.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that people in the region were waiting to see how the U.S. repositions itself after the withdrawal, the BBC reported.
Harris mentioned the ongoing evacuation in Afghanistan in her speech, saying it was “imperative that as we address developments in one region, we continue to advance our interests in other regions, including this region.”
She made clear that the increased U.S. engagement was not simply about fighting China, but also because of an “optimistic vision that we have for our participation and partnership in the region.
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“The U.S., U.K., Australia and other countries must be held accountable for the violation of human rights committed by their military in Afghanistan and the evolution of this current session should cover this issue,” China’s U.N. ambassador Chen Xu told an emergency session of the Human Rights Council on Afghanistan on Tuesday, Reuters reported.