13.02.2021 Author: Vladimir Terehov

Antony Blinken and Yang Jiechi had a “Talk” Over the Phone


The NEO has previously noted (and explained) a certain turnaround in the new US administration’s first contacts with the leadership of other major players in the key Indo-Pacific region. Japan, India, and China are among these contacts.

This was the order of the first brief telephone conversations between the main actors in the Joe Biden administration (including himself) and their counterparts from the countries mentioned. The last in line (but undoubtedly the first in importance) was a telephone conversation on February 5 between the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Yang Jiechi, who is responsible in the CPC Central Committee for the entire range of China’s relations with the outside world. However, the two have known each other for a long time, and you can see their official 2015 photo together by clicking here.

The official announcement on the US State Department’s website is sparse and includes several points worthy of comment, both individually and collectively. Beforehand, the Secretary of State gave his interlocutor “his best wishes” for the coming New Year according to the lunar calendar. Note that the period of celebrations on this occasion in China falls in the (“Gregorian-Julian”) year 2021 on February 12-28. Of course, it is possible to congratulate the Eastern interlocutor in advance (a week ahead), but it was clearly not the main reason to talk to him on the phone.

What mattered was all the theses that followed, the content of which directly contradicted the “wishes” mentioned. First, the news was brought to Yang Jiechi’s attention that “the United States will continue to uphold human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.” Second, China was “demanded to join the international community in condemning the military coup in Burma.”

This last point requires some clarification to be made. First, the country in which, according to Blinken, something bad happened on February 1 this year has been called “Myanmar” for over 30 years, and it is represented in the UN under this name. Second, those who are “concerned” about the events mentioned there all together do not fit the category of the “world community.” Third, China has already spoken out on the subject when it asked the “West” not to add fuel to the smoldering fire of the internal conflict in Myanmar.

Fourth, the propaganda campaign against this country is unfolding according to a scenario very similar to the “Minsk” and “Moscow” ones. In particular, fakes are thrown in about “hundreds of thousands” of demonstrators in the largest cities of Myanmar. The real picture of the demonstration in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) of seven million people, shown in a leading newspaper in Taiwan (which is very interested in what is happening in Myanmar for a number of reasons), looks like this. The main participants are still the same “school kids.”

It seems that this sort of “police socialism” takes on a central and global significance in the arsenal of the director of the world’s political theatre. The most brazen freaks of this movement (most often mentally unstable) have been “spreading unimaginable nonsense to the masses” through the media for decades, with impunity and incessantly.

Finally, the concluding thesis of the US State Department’s report on the conversation between Blinken and Yang Jiechi is the most extensive in terms of content. It included several “subtheses”. Of these, one was to inform the interlocutor of the U.S. intention to “work together with allies and partners to protect shared values.” This “work” is intended to “hold the PRC accountable” for the destabilization of the ITR, including the Taiwan Strait. The final “subthesis” accuses the PRC of “undermining the rules-based system of international relations.”

The text cited by the Department of State makes a strange impression. Provided, of course, it fully enough reflects the content of the first conversation that took place with the person in charge of the main geopolitical opponent. Apart from the fact that the text looks like a full-fledged challenge to the PRC without indicating any possible areas of cooperation, it does not say a word about almost the main problem of US-Chinese relations in recent years, related to the giant trade deficit between the US and the PRC.

One cannot help but wonder what the new administration has to do with the problems of the American people. The previous one at least somehow tried to solve them by initiating negotiations with external counterparts and, above all, with China.

Or are we facing an obscure faction that happens to be at the levers of power of the world’s leading nation? Whose potential will be used for purposes that have little (or nothing) to do with national interests. What will happen to its people when this potential is exhausted in the foreign policy adventures already outlined?

The Chinese version of the conversation is quoted by the Chinese news channel CGTN. Yang Jiechi’s main message to his American opponent is given in the title of the published text: “Let’s leave each other to mind our own business.” However, as noted above, it appears that the new American team is having a hard time and therefore does not have any desire to “mind their own business.” It is simply beyond their intelligence and power. While the problems of China, Russia, Belarus, Myanmar…, are just what the doctor ordered.

Following China’s established foreign policy course in recent years, which President Xi Jinping reaffirmed in his speech at the Davos Forum on January 25, Yang Jiechi called for “non-confrontational, mutually respectful and mutually beneficial cooperation.” The Taiwan issue was identified as the “most sensitive and important” in bilateral relations, in connection with which Washington should adhere to the principle of “One China” and, consequently, cease official contacts with Taiwan and the sale of US arms to it. The situation in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet was qualified as exclusively domestic in nature.

Although Blinken has reaffirmed US respect for the “One China” principle, it has been repeatedly noted in the NEO that actual U.S. policy in recent years is in complete contradiction to this.

It may well be repeated that Blinken is merely the foreign policy domain of the new U.S. administration. So, for example, the trade and economic issues will be handled by “someone else.” The remark is generally appropriate with the clarification that the very division of state activity into external and internal components is rather conventional. In the telephone conversation under discussion, the official responsible in the United States for the former created an uncomfortable, to put it very mildly, environment for the subsequent work of another official who would be responsible for the latter area.

Assuming there is any intention to cooperate constructively with the PRC at all, which, once again, does not seem obvious today. Since, for now, we are witnessing (including in this conversation) the fulfillment of the pre-election promises of the group that won the last U.S. election to devote special attention to the “human rights” issue in its future activities. Let us add, in its peculiarly confrontational interpretation.

And the defenders of “human rights” today are in fact the main international violators. As well as the noisiest guardians of morality, who, as it usually turns out, refuse to comply with their stated code of ethics and happen to be the biggest hypocrites.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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