Sunday 28 February 2021
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China-US cold war: Pompeo revises Nixon-Kissinger policy

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Politics World China-US cold war: Pompeo revises Nixon-Kissinger policy

Even as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the world to rise up against the ‘tyranny’ of Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the phone to ask whether China should be included in future talks on strategic arms control, oil security and Iran developments.

Diplomats based in Washington and Moscow say this was President Trump’s fifth call to President Putin in the last two months. The Russian Federation is the key to holding a rampaging China accountable in the long term interests of global peace, said a source.

While Trump realises the importance of Russia in keeping Beijing on a leash, he faces opposition from activists in Washington are still fixated with the pre-1991 era USSR, which used to be the primary concern for the US.

President Trump tried to dissuade President Putin from supporting Iran that wants to join hands with China for a long term anti-US alliance.

Nixon-Kissinger bonhomie with China thing of past

On his part, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has dumped for good the 1970s’ Nixon-Kissinger doctrine of engaging China with the hope it would make China behave as a responsible international player. The Nixon-Kissinger engagement with China had come at the cost of the US’s relations with India. Washington back then had held New Delhi responsible for the division of Pakistan in 1971. It had moved the USS carrier Enterprise in a threatening manoeuvre approaching the Indian shores during the liberation of Bangladesh — although the act did not escalate beyond posturing.

Saying that the military history of the Cold War years had taught him that “communists always lie”, Secretary Pompeo made it clear the current US dispensation’s approach to China was ‘distrust and verify’. This stood in stark contrast to President Ronald Reagan’s ‘trust but verify’ approach towards communist nations in the 1980s.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside of China forever — unless we allow it… maybe it is time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies,” Pompeo said.

Notably, Pompeo has been referring to Xi as the head of the Communist Party of China more often than as the president of China.

Meanwhile, intelligence agencies have warned the US administration that China will do everything to ensure that President Trump does not return to power in November. In February 1946, US diplomat George F Kennan had sent an 8,000-word telegram to the US State Department, where he articulated the US philosophy of “containment” to deal with the Soviet Union.

‘Not the same as dealing with Soviet Union’

Now Pompeo is saying he isn’t advocating containment because the challenge facing the US and the world from China was much more complex. “The USSR was closed off from the free world. Communist China is already within our borders,” he said.

Pompeo, identifying China as a clear and present danger, turned President Nixon’s statement that the “world cannot be safe until China changes” on its head. The US secretary of state said that the world must change as “the Chinese CCP will change us as it is happening in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang”.

Following up on US National Security Advisor Richard O’ Brien, FBI Director Chris Wray and Attorney General William Barr’s caustic remarks on China, Secretary Pompeo has set the agenda for the dawn of a new Cold War. The last one ended with the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991. Only this time the enemy is China.

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