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China lashes Washington over Quad, North Korea

BEIJING (AP) — China’s top diplomat on Monday accused Washington of trying to create an Asian version of the U.S.-European NATO military alliance and said it is up to the Biden administration to improve relations with North Korea.

U.S. policy toward East Asia and the Indian Ocean and efforts to strengthen military ties with Japan, Australia and India are a “disaster that disrupts regional peace and stability,” Wang Yi said at a news conference.

The comments reflected the ruling Communist Party’s ambitions to be Asia’s undisputed power and its frustration with resistance from neighbors to its territorial claims in the South China Sea and the Himalayas.

They also reflect Beijing’s stance toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China has sought to distance itself from the war by calling for dialogue and respect for national sovereignty. It also has said Washington is to blame for the conflict for failing to take Russia’s security concerns into consideration.

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“The United States is playing geopolitical games under the pretext of promoting regional cooperation,” Wang said. He said this “runs counter” to regional desires for cooperation and “is doomed to have no future.”

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Wang complained Washington is organizing U.S. allies to “suppress China.”

Beijing is irritated by growing military ties among the Quad nations of the United States, Japan, Australia and India. China criticized a U.S. decision last year to supply technology for Australia to field its first nuclear-powered submarines.

“The real purpose of the ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ is to create an Indo-Pacific version of NATO,” he said. The Western alliance’s expansion was cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin as one reason behind his invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing’s assertive foreign policy and claims to disputed territories in the South China Sea and the Himalayas have antagonized Japan, India and other neighbors. China

Wang called on the Biden administration to revive the spirit of the 1970s agreements that opened U.S. relations with the communist Beijing government.

“The United States still spares no effort to carry out intense competition with China, constantly attacking and provoking trouble on issues regarding China’s core interests,” Wang said.

Washington should “return to the right track of rationality and pragmatism,” he said.

Wang called on Washington take initiative to improve relations with North Korea. He accused the Biden administration of failing to respond to “positive measures” by leader Kim Jong Un’s government “aimed at promoting dialogue.”

“Where to go next depends largely on what the American side does: will it really take concrete actions to solve the problem, or will it continue to use the (Korean) peninsula issue as a strategic bargaining chip?” Wang said.

Wang called on Washington to take steps to address the North’s “legitimate security concerns” and establish trust but gave no details.

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“China is willing to continue to play a constructive role and make efforts to this end,” he said.

Turning to the disputed South China Sea, Wang complained outsiders were interfering with efforts to develop a “code of conduct” and said Beijing and Southeast Asian governments should be left alone to negotiate.

The United States and other governments have sent warships through sections of the sea claimed by Beijing to assert the right of vessels from all countries to use the waters.

Outsiders “do not want the South China Sea to be calm, because this will make them lose the pretext to intervene for personal gain,” Wang said. ”External interference cannot stop the pace of regional cooperation.”

“I want to feel safe so I can practice, and not think that a bomb can fall and ruin my house,” she said.

Some 4 million people may flee Ukraine if Russia’s offensive continues, the U.N. has said. On Monday, European Union foreign affairs policy chief Josep Borrell urged the mobilization of “all the resources” of the 27-nation bloc to help countries welcoming them.

Two Czech army convoys were on the way to neighboring Slovakia to help. “We didn’t have to think twice and immediately met the Slovak request,” Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova said. The temporary base will be able to accommodate up to 400 people.

A cardinal dispatched by Pope Francis on a mission to promote peace traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border to meet with refugees. He will highlight “the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention,” the Vatican said, citing the pope’s frequent denunciation of suffering in wars in Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria.

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Uncertainty and relief continued along the border among the thousands of arriving Ukrainians. Many were wrapped in blankets. Some held small children. They sought the basic necessities: food, shelter, sleep, support.

Under a canopy next to the train station in the Hungarian border town of Zahony, Tamas Marghescu stirred a cauldron of traditional meat stew. As an outdoorsman and the Hungary director for the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, he called the meal well-suited for those who shivered in line for hours at the border.

“When you’re at home watching the news, you feel so helpless,” his wife, Ilona, said. “It’s … important for people when they come off those trains to have somebody smiling at them and to know that there are people here that care.”

The couple said they felt a responsibility to help those who fled. Ilona’s parents left Hungary for Australia during World War II. Marghescu’s family twice fled Soviet domination, after the war in 1948 and again after the brutal Soviet repression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

“My parents are still telling me stories about when they were refugees and they were looked after,” Marghescu said, His wildlife organization has set up similar outdoor kitchens at the Polish, Slovakian and Romanian borders with Ukraine.

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