Date: February 16, 2019
By: Marc Champion
If China and the U.S. are in the midst of a divorce, Europeans look increasingly like the children.
That was the impression given by a series of back-to-back appearances on Saturday, from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The speeches put growing great power rivalries on display, but with Europe more the object of a custody battle than a participant.
Speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference, Yang looked like he was trying to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its European Union allies, singling out transatlantic differences over multilateralism and technology investment.
He spent much of his speech extolling the virtues of cooperation, international organizations and free trade, popular in Europe, and attacked the dangers of “protectionism,” as well as “hegemony and power politics.” The U.S. wasn’t named, but the target was clear.
Yang disputed Pence’s warnings that Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. would expose European 5G networks to the risk of espionage and suggested that Europeans deserve more respect from their traditional ally.
“I hope some Americans will have a bit more confidence in themselves and be a little more respectful to people, people in the so-called old world,’’ said Yang, a former Chinese ambassador to the U.S., using a common American euphemism for Europe. “People all know where their interests lie, so let there be fewer lecturers.’’ [FULL STORY]