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China says will stick with U.S. trade deal, but respond to 'bullying'

Credit: REUTERS/ALY SONG

Updates with Chinese foreign ministry comments on bilateral relations, background

BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it will stick to the Phase 1 trade deal it reached with the United States earlier this year but warned that it will respond to "bullying" tactics from Washington, as relations continue to deteriorate.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also invited U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come to China and visit the western Xinjiang region to see that there are no human rights violations, responding to Washington's sanctions and accusations of wrongdoing against the Uighur Muslim minorities who live there.

Relations between Beijing and Washington are at the worst in decades as the two countries clash on multiple fronts including China's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, the new national security law in Hong Kong, trade and the accusations of human rights crimes in Xinjiang.

Washington on Tuesday removed special status designation for Hong Kong and imposed sanctions against top Chinese officials and companies over Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Beijing condemned the moves and vowed to retaliate.

The New York Times reported that the United States is considering a travel ban against all members of China's ruling Communist Party, a move that will further strain an increasingly confrontational relationship.

Hua told reporters during a daily briefing that such a ban, if true, would be "pathetic."

Asked whether the recent sanctions imposed by Washington will impact the trade deal, Hua told reporters that China hopes the agreement can still be implemented.

"We always implement our commitments but we know that some in the U.S. are oppressing China and bullying China," she said. "As an independent sovereign state China must respond to the bullying practices by the U.S. side; we must say no, we must make responses and take reactive moves to it."

Hua also called Washington's accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur minorities the "biggest lies of the century".

"We welcome him (Pompeo) to travel to our country and see what the Xinjiang people's view of him is," she said. "I could introduce him to some Uighur friends."

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill)

((vincentsy.lee@thomsonreuters.com; follow me on Twitter @Rover829;))

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