Li Yucheng, foreign vice-minister, stressed the dangers during the World Peace Forum at Tsinghua University in Beijing, which was attended by academics and diplomats. Mr Yucheng said: “Polarisation between the rich and the poor, the ageing of infrastructure – all of those have their own causes – but China is not the scapegoat. “Treating China as an enemy is not rational – it is very stupid and could lead to disastrous consequences.”
During his speech, he referred to concerns passed on to him by academics and diplomats who he said were facing increasing difficulties in applying for US visas.
In some cases, they had had their documents cancelled, he added.
In addition, some researchers had also been sacked by American employers in recent months, Mr Yucheng claimed.
His comments came despite US President Donald Trump telling China’s leader Xi Jinping Chinese students were always welcome to study in America, when they met at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last month.
Mr Yucheng added: “There are some reports saying that some Chinese-American scientists in the US, just because they are Chinese scientists, they have been treated unfairly.
“They have been put under scrutiny, harassed, and some of them even lost their jobs.”
Some Chinese academics had even avoided transiting in the US on their way to Latin America because they feared they would be harassed, he said.
He referred to a case in May in which he said Emory University in Georgia had dismissed two Chinese-American neuroscientists over alleged undisclosed funding ties to China, and another a month earlier when the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston fired three Chinese-American researchers which it accused of conducting espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.
Mr Yucheng added: “I find it difficult to understand the cancer centre case because doctors and researchers are there to find treatments for diseases to save lives.
“How can that add to the threat to US national security?”
Tensions between have been increasing as a result of a tit-for-tat trade dispute which has seen both countries slap tariffs on a range of imported goods.
China’s military expansion, particularly in the South China Sea, as well as concerns over human rights are also bones of contention.
In addition, the US State Department yesterday approved a potential $2billion arms sale to Taiwan.
The move prompted the Chinese government to accuse Washington of interfering with its security interests.
Speaking at the same event, Vice-President Wang Qishan said Beijing need to stay committed to economic globalisation despite the escalating trade war with the US.
He added: “China’s development can’t be separated from the world, and the world’s development cannot be separated from China.”