Date: June 26, 2020
By: John Sexton
It was always going to come down to this at some point. The Wall Street Journal reports that China has begun delivering a clear message to the U.S. Either we let them have their way in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan or we can kiss the Phase One trade deal goodbye.
Chinese leaders have accused Washington of meddling in areas such as Hong Kong, where China is imposing a sweeping national-security law, and Taiwan, which Beijing considers as part of China. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill that would put sanctions on Chinese officials, businesses and banks that undermine Hong Kong’s limited autonomy from Beijing.
During a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week in Hawaii, China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, listed such actions, according to Beijing’s official account of the meeting, as well as China’s “strong dissatisfaction” with a bill President Trump signed last week mandating sanctions against Chinese officials and entities deemed responsible for mass detention of Uighur Muslim in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
While Mr. Yang reiterated Beijing’s commitment to carrying out the trade deal, he stressed that both sides had to “work together,” said people familiar with the conversations. A Chinese official said that meant “the U.S. side should refrain from going too far with meddling.” The official added, “Red lines shouldn’t be crossed.”
The Chinese position was summed up this way by an analyst:
“You can’t keep asking us to buy your stuff and at the same time keep beating up on us,” said Mei Xinyu, an analyst at a think tank affiliated with China’s Commerce Ministry. “That’s not how it works.”
But it appears, at least for now, the U.S. isn’t interested in continuing to wink at China’s authoritarian expansionism. On Wednesday of this week, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the days of American passivity toward China were over.