Pompeo’s Speech Will ‘Reverse Effect’ in China, Says Former US Diplomat

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The speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who criticized China was an “angry complaint” and “extended ideological diatribe” that would do little to change Beijing’s behavior, a former senior US diplomat in Asia said.Specifically, Pompeo’s apparent attempt to rally the Chinese people against the Chinese Communist Party is “primitive and ineffective,” which is likely to increase support for Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Daniel Russel, who served as secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Deputy State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. from 2013 to 2017.

“This kind of denunciation (has) the opposite effect, by strengthening support in China for Xi Jinping and deepening anger towards the United States,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday.

“Complaining is not making amends and denouncing is not diplomacy,” said Russel, who is now vice president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Pompeo delivered a general speech to the Presidential Richard Nixon Library on Thursday, saying the United States will no longer tolerate Beijing’s playbook to usurp world order and calling on the allies to “push China for change.”

He also called for the engagement and empowerment of the Chinese people, whom he described as “a dynamic and freedom-loving people, completely separate from the Chinese Communist Party.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, March 25, 2020.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Michael Hirson, Eurasia Group practice manager for China and Northeast Asia, said the secretary of state’s remarks came as close as possible to a call for regime change in China. But as the US presidential election draws near, Chinese policymakers are unlikely to react in a way that would “fundamentally” change relations between the two countries, he said.

“So to some extent they’re absorbing these body shots and I think they’re waiting until after the election to decide where Beijing wants this relationship to take,” Hirson told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.

“At the moment, they are watching it evolve and are not ready to take drastic changes that would change the way Beijing faces this new challenge from the United States,” he added.

Relations between the United States and China – the world’s two largest economies – have been at their worst in decades. In addition to the ongoing trade war in the countries, the two sides recently argued over a range of issues, including the origin of the coronavirus and China’s decision to implement a national security law in Hong Kong. .

Russel said the “blame China” and “toughen up China” rhetoric in the United States means tensions between the two countries could escalate.

“It’s some kind of stationary object that meets an overwhelming force, there’s a lot of friction and it’s unlikely to end well,” he added.

– CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report

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