China’s Secretary of State blamed the US for increasing tensions between Washington and Peking and said that unless the US changes course, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailment and there will “certainly be conflict and confrontation.”

The United States has engaged in suppression and containment of China rather than competition, Foreign Minister Qin Gang told reporters at a news conference in Beijing on the sidelines of an annual parliamentary meeting.

This wrong policy of the US towards China is “a reckless gamble” where the stakes are the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of mankind, Qin said.

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Relations between the two superpowers have been strained for years over a number of issues, including Taiwan, trade and Ukraine, but worsened after controversy involving a balloon the US said was a Chinese spy balloon shot down last month.

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Washington’s handling of the balloon incident created a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided, Qin Gang told reporters on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Writing by Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast.)