The Chinese government's top diplomat Wang Yi said on Friday there was "no cause for panic" over friction between Beijing and Washington, but warned that China would not be blackmailed or yield to pressure over trade.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Beijing of seeking to meddle in the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections in a bid to stop him and his Republican Party from doing well because of his trade policy that challenged China. At the same meeting, Wang rejected the charge.
"Protectionism will only hurt oneself, and unilateral moves will bring damage to all," Wang said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
"Regarding trade frictions, China stands for a proper settlement based on rules and consensus through dialogue and consultation on an equal footing. China will not be blackmailed or yield to pressure."
Wang earlier told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that concrete actions had to be taken to maintain relations between the United States and China. The two countries are embroiled in a trade war sparked by Trump's accusations that China has long sought to steal U.S. intellectual property, limit access to its own market and unfairly subsidize state-owned companies.
"The closer our engagement, the more closely entwined our interests, maybe various suspicions and even frictions may ensue," Wang said. "This is not surprising and it is also no cause for panic."
He dismissed any suggestion there was forced technology transfer from foreign firms in China and he played down complaints by some U.S. firms about market conditions in China, saying they did not represent the majority.
What is important is how these differences should be viewed, evaluated and handled," Wang said.
He said China was fostering closer economic ties with Russia as the two economies were complimentary. Moscow and Beijing were on the same page on international issues, Wang said. He said that scrapping the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could lead to a regional arms race.
Further cooperation with China was key in pursuing denuclearization of its ally North Korea, the diplomat said, but urged the creation of a peace mechanism and for the United States to give North Korea more incentives.
"We believe it is also right for the U.S. to make timely and positive responses so as to truly meet North Korea half way," Wang said in his U.N. speech.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned members of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that they must "set the example" by enforcing sanctions on North Korea as China and Russia suggested the council consider easing the tough measures because progress had been made.
China has exercised "utmost restraint" in the South China Sea and seeks peaceful solutions, Wang said on Friday. China has sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and that people there feel the need for enhanced defenses given heavy U.S. military patrols, Wang said.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion worth of trade passes every year. Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea, which has oil and gas deposits and rich fishing grounds.
"China will not, repeat, not repeat the old practice of a strong country seeking hegemony," Wang said. "I don’t think China will become the United States and China will not challenge the United States, still less will China take the place of the United States."