The US is constantly criticizing other countries and lecturing them on how they should behave, as if the US is some kind of moral exemplar. Most countries do not respond in kind because of the US’s economic and military power but with China increasingly challenging the US in both those areas, they are in a position to respond. But the Chinese government tends to be cautious in its approach and temperate in its language even as it pursues hardline policies, an iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove approach that has helped it gain influence in the world.
So it was a surprise, to me at least, to see them imposing sweeping sanctions on high-level Trump officials accompanied by harsh language, delivered even as Joe Biden was being sworn in.
In a striking repudiation of its relationship with Washington under Trump, the Chinese foreign ministry announced the sanctions in a statement that appeared on its website as Biden was taking the presidential oath.
Pompeo and the others had “planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations”, it said.
The other outgoing and former Trump officials sanctioned included the trade chief, Peter Navarro; national security advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton; the health secretary, Alex Azar; UN ambassador Kelly Craft; and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon.
The 28 ex-officials and immediate family members would be banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and companies and institutions associated with them restricted from doing business with China.
China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in its western Xinjiang region, where a United Nations panel has said at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.
Responding to the Xinjiang allegations, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told a media briefing on Wednesday: “Pompeo has made so many lies in recent years, and this is just another bold-faced lie.
“This US politician is notorious for lying and cheating, is making himself a laughing stock and a clown,” she said.
Pompeo is undoubtedly a grandstanding clown but it is shocking to hear another country’s government spokesperson describe a US secretary of state in such a derogatory manner.
It is clear that this move was planned well in advance and they were waiting for the moment that Trump left office to show their anger and disdain.