Tag Archives: Mike Pompeo

Pelosi Visit Would Raise Taiwan Tensions

FORMER US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo would probably be the most provocative travelling companion imaginable for Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, if she makes her much-discussed trip to Taiwan next month.

On July 24, Pompeo, an arch-China hawk even by the standards of former Trump administration officials, offered to accompany Pelosi on her controversial trip, even though she has not confirmed when, or even if, she would visit Taipei.

If she goes, Pelosi would be the most senior serving US official to visit Taiwan since one of her predecessors as Speaker, Newt Gingrich, a quarter of a century ago.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian yesterday repeated Beijing’s uncompromising opposition to the trip:

The Chinese side has repeatedly made clear to the US side our serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We are fully prepared for any eventuality. If the US side insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will take firm and strong measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US must assume full responsibility for any serious consequence arising thereof.

China has reportedly backed up its open threats of retaliation if the visit occurs with stronger than usual warnings through official back channels. The US military is understood to have been told that her plane would not be allowed to land, although it is unclear how China would enforce that.

Whether Pelosi flew in on a military plane or a commercial flight, shooting it down, or even intimidating it would be an act that the United States could not let pass without a strong, probably military response. President Xi Jinping would need to be extremely sure of his ground to let that unfold ahead of the autumn’s Party Congress (or be in a position of desperation, of which there is little to no evidence).

US President Joe Biden said on July 20 that ‘the military thinks it’s not a good idea’ for Pelosi to visit Taiwan. The White House would prefer the trip not to go ahead. It has already been postponed once, after Pelosi contracted Covid-19 in the spring. Yet, given the public discussion about the trip and China’s warnings, Pelosi’s not going would be seen in both Beijing and Washington as a US climb down in the face of Chinese pressure.

Biden said last week that he intends to hold his next conversation with Xi by the end of the month, offering some prospect of a diplomatic de-escalation of the rising tensions over Taiwan. His case will not be helped by efforts in the US Congress to pass a resolution formally abandoning the One China policy, although it has a low chance of passing in this Congress. The next Congress, if Republican-controlled as is possible after November’s elections, would be another matter.

Beijing has been responding to what it sees as Washington salami-slicing the One-China policy through increasing acts of US support for Taipei by ratcheting up its squeeze on Taiwan diplomatically, economically and especially through military intimidation. The risk in tit-for-tat retaliation is always an accidental clash that escalates into a bigger crisis.


Filed under China-U.S., Taiwan

In China, We Distrust

CHINA IS RETALIATING against the United States’ closure of the consulate in Houston, ordering the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu in retaliation.

Beijing has not taken what would have been a more provocative line of action against the US diplomatic operation in Hong Kong. The Chengdu consulate, which has about 200 staff, does, however, monitor Tibet.

The announcement was measured:

The current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the United States is responsible for all this. We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.

This stands in marked contrast to another combative speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo :

We must admit a hard truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come, that if we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done. We must not continue it and we must not return to it.

As President Trump has made very clear, we need a strategy that protects the American economy, and indeed our way of life. The free world must triumph over this new tyranny.

Pompeo was speaking on July 23 at the presidential library of former President Richard Nixon, whose 1972 China visit heralded the re-establishment of relations between the United States and China.

It was the fourth in a series of speeches by senior members of the Trump administration setting out US policy towards China. The others were by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien on the ideological aspects of the relationship, FBI Director Christopher Wray on espionage and Attorney General William Barr on the economics.

Pulled together by Pompeo’s, the four speeches lay out what the administration says are the massive imbalances in that relationship that have built up over decades since the Nixon visit and the Chinese Communist Party’s designs for hegemony. Or in Pompeo’s words, ‘What do the American people have to show now 50 years on from engagement with China? ‘

The consequence of ‘the hard truth’ was that;

The only way to truly change communist China is to act not on the basis of what Chinese leaders say, but how they behave. And you can see American policy responding to this conclusion. President Reagan said that he dealt with the Soviet Union on the basis of “trust but verify.” When it comes to the CCP, I say we must distrust and verify.

‘Distrust and verify’ is the new containment.


Filed under China-U.S.

A Bad Day For Beijing In North America

TO LITTLE SURPRISE in these febrile times for China-US relations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that Hong Kong has lost its autonomy from China, and thus put at risk the city’s preferential trade treatment by the United States.

Last year, the US Congress passed legislation that requires the US State Department to certify annually that the city remains autonomous. In a statement, Pompeo said:

After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997. No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.

The statement comes hard on the heels of Beijing’s announced intention to write a new national security law into Hong Kong’s Basic Law, an intent that has brought hundreds of Hongkonger’s onto the streets in protest. There, they have been met with tear gas, pepper spray and police baton charges.

The State Department announcement paves the way for a range of punitive options for the Trump administration, from asset freezes and travel restrictions for top officials to US President Donald Trump’s favoured sanction of tariffs on Hong Kong exports. The president has promised an indication by week’s end of what he will do.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has repeated the standard line that the national security law for Hong Kong is an internal affair for which it will brook no foreign interference, and warned that “if anyone insists on harming China’s interests, China is determined to take all necessary countermeasures”.

As this Bystander has noted previously, commerce and capital are going to have to choose sides over Hong Kong.

Meng Wenzhou

Meanwhile, the British Colombia Supreme Court in Vancouver has ruled that an extradition request by Washington for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, can proceed. Meng faces fraud charges in the United States in connection with alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

This is far from the end of the matter. A hearing is scheduled for next month on whether Canadian officials acted lawfully while arresting Meng. Even if a Canadian court eventually recommends extradition, which has already cast a dark shadow over relations between Beijing and Ottawa, it will be Canada’s federal justice minister who will take the ultimate decision whether or not to hand Meng over for trial in the United States.

Update: On May 28, the National People’s Congress formally approved the proposal for Beijing to impose a national security law on Hong Kong,

1 Comment

Filed under China-U.S., Hong Kong