The United States is "the biggest threat to world peace, stability, and development," China said on Thursday, continuing its sharp rhetoric in response to US accusations of Chinese spying and threats to the international order.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian's comments came a day after the head of the FBI and the leader of Britain's domestic intelligence agency raised fresh alarms about the Chinese government, warning business leaders that Beijing is determined to steal their technology for competitive gain.
The heightened tone comes ahead of a meeting Saturday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations' minister's summit in Bali, Indonesia.
"The relevant US politician has been playing up the so-called China threat to smear and attack China," Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing when asked about FBI Director Christopher Wray's comments reaffirming longstanding concerns in denouncing economic espionage and hacking operations by China as well as the Chinese government's efforts to stifle dissent abroad.
"Facts have fully proven that the US is the biggest threat to world peace, stability and development," Zhao said. "We urge this US official to have the right perspective, see China's developments in an objective and reasonable manner and stop spreading lies and stop making irresponsible remarks."
Wray's speech was particularly notable because it took place at MI5's London headquarters and alongside the agency's director-general, Ken McCallum, in an intended show of Western solidarity.
"We consistently see that it's the Chinese government that poses the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security, and by our,' I mean both of our nations, along with our allies in Europe and elsewhere,” Wray told attendees.
McCallum said the Chinese government and its "covert pressure across the globe" amount to “the most game-changing challenge we face."
Under Xi Jinping, president and head of the ruling Communist Party, China has assumed an increasingly aggressive foreign policy, joining with Russia in seeking to undermine the influence of the U.S. and its allies.
Beijing has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine — which is expected to dominate the G-20 foreign ministers' meeting — while condemning Western sanctions against Moscow and accusing Washington and NATO of provoking the conflict.
At the same time, the party exercises sweeping powers over all Chinese companies and institutions, both public and private, as it seeks to dominate global markets and emerging technologies.
The Chinese government and its “covert pressure across the globe” amount to “the most game-changing challenge we face,” McCallum said in his Wednesday remarks.
In his response, Zhao said British intelligence was “simply projecting their own dishonorable behavior onto China."
"The head of the British intelligence service should cast away (his) evil in mind, come out of the darkroom and see the sunshine, and not always hold on to the zero-sum thinking or set up so-called imaginary enemies," he said.
Zhao on Wednesday slammed Blinken's comments at last week's NATO summit in Spain, in which the Secretary of State accused China of “seeking to undermine the rules-based international order."