Top diplomats blast Beijing’s bullying behavior

Ambassadors Burns and Romualdez warn of China’s hostile acts towards the US and the Philippines

President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party regime is besieged by a barrage of diplomatic flak aimed at China’s bullying behavior.

Earlier this week, the United States Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, delivered a stinging salvo, accusing Beijing of undermining relations with Washington.

He cited the agreement worked out between US President Joe Biden and Comrade Xi to “support and expand” interaction between the two countries at last November’s San Francisco Summit. The move included student and business exchanges.

“They say they’re in favor of reconnecting our two populations, but they’re taking dramatic steps to make it impossible,” Burns was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Point by point:

  • Burns accused Beijing of “interrogating and intimidating citizens who attend US-organized events in China.”
  • This is done by “ramping up restrictions on the embassy’s social-media posts.”
  • “Whipping up anti-American sentiment” has also been stepped up by China’s state-run media and government-controlled online sites.

The relevant comments by Ambassador Burns are factually inaccurate

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning

Beijing’s reaction: “The comments by Ambassador Burns are factually inaccurate and deviate from the important consensus reached by the two countries’ heads of state at their meeting in San Francisco,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said today.  

Delve deeper: Just hours after Burns’ comments were published, the Philippine ambassador to Washington, Jose Manuel Romualdez, waded into the row about Beijing’s hostile actions.

Big picture: The Philippines is struggling to keep China’s quasi-military coastguard out of its territorial waters near the Second Thomas Shoal. The reef is the latest flashpoint in Beijing’s battle to dominate the South China Sea.

Why it matters: “It’s the most dangerous time … If anything happens, the entire Asian region will be included,” Romualdez told the Financial Times in an interview published today, raising the specter of a major conflict.

China Factor comment: Xi’s government is not only becoming an “existential threat” to the US and its democratic allies but also to the nations in the East and South China Seas.