US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Photo: AFP
On Saturday US time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted more than 30 tweets, almost all of which were directed against China. It seems that he has gone “insane.” There are only a few days to go before he finishes his tenure as US secretary of state. Obviously, he holds a morbid fascination with this post and is making use of the last few days to show off his presence and leave some diplomatic legacy to the incoming Biden administration.
The outgoing Trump administration has become paralyzed. Most in the Trump team have resigned, and those that remain are keeping a low profile. But Pompeo is an exception. His job performance did not match his position as secretary of state, but was rather individual. He made a series of abrupt decisions targeting China, Cuba and Iran, none of which has the assurance and coordination of other policies. A normal government would not issue these policies in such haste. It is obvious that Pompeo did so out of the interests of Republican Party and his own. Analysts believe he has ambitions to run for the presidency in 2024.
Pompeo’s crazy show is a manifestation of the extreme, irrational and irresponsible China policy of the US in the past few years. The Trump administration has been aggressive in its China relations, while China has been in a defensive and restrained position, which is clear to all. Whatever countermeasures China has taken against this US administration are never overdone.
It is beyond everyone’s expectation that the US system could have allowed such serious political destruction to take place during a power transition period. Without any obstruction, Pompeo’s personal emotions are masquerading as the diplomatic proclamations of the US, a superpower. This example of “democratic politics” seems to be like a bad joke.
We hope after the Biden administration takes power, it will consider abolishing all the abrupt diplomatic decisions the current administration has made during its last days, instead of making use of the opportunity to legitimize them. The Biden team has said it will rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization and rectify the mistakes of the Trump government. But this is far from enough. The diplomatic offenses led by Pompeo should be abolished as well.
Beijing will not accept restarting China-US relations based on the series of anti-China decisions made by Pompeo. Neither will Chinese society. If policies such as sanctions on Chinese companies released in the last few days are implemented and US officials having no restrictions in engaging with Taiwan becomes the new starting point for the Biden administration to deal with the Taiwan question, the China-US relationship is bound to suffer a larger crisis than it experienced in the past four years.
The current US administration has refused to step down in a quiet manner. Trump incited his supporters to make a farce, which is superficial resistance. But Pompeo is piling up troubles for the next administration’s foreign policies, which is resistance in a disguised form and whose destructive impact is no less than the Capitol Hill riots. To put it more precisely, Pompeo is the savage destroyer of the transitional tradition and rules of US foreign policy. He is more evil than the rioters at Capitol Hill.
The Capitol riots only cost the US itself, while Pompeo is jeopardizing nothing less than world peace and stability. If the world descends headlong into a geopolitical disaster one day, Pompeo will be revealed as the most infamous among its initiators.
Pompeo’s performance in the waning days of his tenure shows that he does not deserve the title of US secretary of state. China’s focus has shifted to the Biden team which has a window to rectify the extreme policies of its previous administration. Even if both parties in the US advocate a tough China policy, this should not affect rational adjustments.
This last ditch effort of Pompeo is like playing with fire. If he announced scrapping all the restrictions on US officials to engage with Taiwan in the early or middle phases of the Trump administration, it might have led to war. He is maliciously leaving this fatal risk to the Biden team. We hope the Biden team is determined enough to cast out all the time bombs set by Pompeo and make way for a clear bottom line for China-US relations.