The two governments have sparred over several issues in recent months, including the origin of the new coronavirus, mass demonstrations, the promotion of democracy in Hong Kong and to denounce racism in the united States, mutual accusations of lying, and the expulsion of journalists in the two countries.
As if to underline the gap between them, the UNITED states and Chinese officials at the time said foreign diplomats that the other side requested the meeting in Hawaii.
The meeting of the delegations headed by Pompeo and the Yang, a member of the Politburo regarded as the architect of China’s foreign policy, reflects the growing concerns on the tensions between the two economic and nuclear weapon superpowers. With Republicans and Democrats intensified their criticism of China, the tensions are unlikely to raise regardless of who wins the U.S. presidential election.
“The decline, the decadence and the speed is faster than anyone’s imagination,” said Cheng Li, director of the China Center at the Brookings Institution. “There is no confidence whatsoever, on the two sides.”
In a brief summary after the meeting, which lasted nearly seven hours, the State Department said Pompeo and Yang had an “exchange of views”.
“The Secretary underscored important U.s. interests and the need for reciprocal relations between the two nations on a commercial scale, security, and diplomatic interactions,” the statement said. “He also stressed the need for full transparency and the sharing of information to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.”
Pompeo was very critical of China on several occasions for its repression of human rights, of journalists and of the Uighur Muslims. He called on the Chinese Communist Party, “the central threat of our time” and a “fraud” that includes “obscene propaganda” about the anti-racism protests in the united States.
Chinese state media have, in turn, marked Pompeo “evil”, “crazy” and “the enemy of humanity.” After a prickly phone call with Pompeo, Yang said CGTN, China from the state to the overseas broadcaster, that he opposed the AMERICAN attempts to “slander and smear China’s efforts” to contain the coronavirus.
Pompeo entered the meeting, his first with his Chinese counterpart, since the month of September, with the hope of solving the problems he has cited many times before. He wanted to extract more information from Beijing about the viral outbreak and to remind the government of its commitments to Hong Kong amid concerns that it is trampling on the isle of autonomy, a high State Department official, said before the session.
“We still do not have direct access to virus samples, to facilities, to the scientists” of Wuhan, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss bilateral relations.
In addition, Pompeo wanted to persuade China to raise issues related to nuclear weapons negotiations between the united States and Russia. The next week, Marshall Billingslea, the special envoy of the president for arms control, will meet with his Russian counterpart, Vice-Minister of Foreign affairs, Sergei Ryabkov, to discuss the regulation of the world, the two largest nuclear arsenals. The Asset administration is looking for a trilateral agreement, but China has declined a U.S. invitation to the meeting.
“They are expected to double their nuclear arsenal completely without constraint, without transparency at all, over the next decade,” the official said about China, explaining that the administration wants to include Beijing in a case.
“Their behavior — attacker Hong Kong’s freedoms, the illegal seizure of new territories in the South China Sea, the ignition of a border dispute with India, etc … — all of this behavior, it is really concerning to us,” the official said.
Another person familiar with the preparations said Pompeo is also expected to raise issues related to Taiwan, and Phase 1 of the US-China trade agreement.
Fewer details are known of China on the agenda, but Beijing is clearly worried about the bi-partisan, belligerent attitude of Washington. Even the President of the Asset, which is used to call the Chinese President Xi Jinping a “very, very good friend to me,” has taken to castigating China and its Communist Party.
“The Chinese are worried about an acceleration of the downward spiral in the UNITED states-China relations, in particular in the perspective of the next election,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, “to treat China as a punching bag. They want to put a floor under the deterioration of the situation so that they do not end up in such a negative place in November, which can make it difficult to have any type of friendly relationship.”
Even allies who share U.S. concerns about China’s growing influence are wary of the adoption of the confrontational approach favored by the Trumpet of the administration. Josep Borrell, the head of the foreign policy of the European Union, said this week that Europe does not want to choose between the united States and China. He called on the UNITED states European dialogue to discuss ways to address the insurance of China.
Phil Reeker, the deputy state secretary for European affairs, said he had no concerns about China, the more distance possible between the two former allies.
“We’re not the ones suggesting a choice between Chinese authoritarianism and the free world,” he said. “This is China, it is trying to force the decision, as the Chinese Communist Party is trying to make the world a safer place for an authoritarian system.”
As one of the most vociferous proponents of a hard line on China in the Trumpet of the administration, Pompeo seems an unlikely candidate to be reconciled between the two countries. Li, of the Brookings institute, said the Chinese saw the meeting as a “Nixon in China” moment, meaning the point where a leader is suddenly the opposite of his previous views and acts as a bridge-builder.
The Chinese seem to reserve their greatest contempt for Pompeo, but we recognize that it is the secretary of state and Trump’s closest advisor. But it is difficult to know if Pompeo can put aside his harsh language and policies to avoid a new Cold War.
“We are at a point where we can avoid it,” said Benjamin H. Friedman, the policy director for Defense Priorities, the foreign policy of reflection. “Some of the things that we do are to be avoided — unnecessary insult or sanctions by means which are not useful is a mistake. At the same time, it is a good use of rhetoric to say things about the way they treat protesters in Hong Kong, and the Uighurs.
“We’d like to do it all for limited, controlled rivalry with China and a pragmatic relationship that recognizes their sins. But the fact is, we are obliged to deal with them, in part because the nuclear-weapon-block war.”