Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the New York Post in a recent interview that China‘s New York consulate general is being used as a major hub for the nation‘s US espionage efforts, and more Chinese diplomats and agents will likely be arrested. This is the latest US threat to escalate the diplomatic conflict between China and the US.
Describing the Chinese consulate general in New York as a so-called hub for espionage is a crude accusation, and even people in the US and the Western world would hardly believe it. The US is stirring up trouble, and is likely paving the way for more actions against Chinese diplomats and institutions in the US.
China has never adopted radical paths in its foreign intelligence work. However, intelligence agencies of Western countries, including the US, have a large amount of record in committing murders, sabotage, and subversive activities abroad. US intelligence agencies are particularly infamous in this regard, and have been unscrupulous in using advanced technologies to gather intelligence. The exposure of the PRISM surveillance program has shown the world the tip of the iceberg of US espionage activities, which have no bottom line.
It is normal for embassies and consulates to obtain information on the status of the host country through public resources and legal exchanges. China has always treated local laws as bottom lines when it comes to intelligence work overseas. So far, there has never been a scandal involving Chinese intelligence personnel engaging in sabotage activities abroad, or using the diplomatic status to cover those activities. US allegations that Chinese diplomats have engaged in vicious intelligence gathering are groundless. So far, no relevant proof to these allegations that could be generally accepted globally has ever been provided. Pompeo‘s high-profile accusation against the Chinese consulate in New York is regarded by many as an excuse of further deteriorating diplomatic ties with China.
The US has been frequently stirring up diplomatic incidents with China. This is rare in the history of global diplomacy. Even during the Cold War, neither the US nor the Soviet Union picked up fights on multiple issues at the same time, or deliberately created a crisis.
Such a morbid provocation does not stem from the practical needs of US ties with China, but Washington‘s attempt to seek sensational effects by sabotaging China-US relations in purpose. As to why it is doing so, the world sees it as boosting the chances of US President Donald Trump‘s reelection.
The US election is just over a month away, and Trump still trails his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the polls. The failure to lead the country in the fight against COVID-19 is Trump‘s Achilles‘ heel. The Republican Party‘s strategy is to make China the scapegoat. Intensifying tensions between China and the US will help boost American voters‘ anger toward China, which will help the Trump administration make more Americans believe that all US problems and disasters come from China.
Many people believe the Trump administration will create more sensational but controllable China-US tensions before the election. Frictions between the two over the Taiwan question, South China Sea affairs and escalating diplomatic clashes are attracting analysts‘ attention. Some suggest Beijing turn a blind eye to Washington‘s provocations. To some extent, such advice makes sense from a tactical perspective.
However, China must resolutely fight back against some US provocations. Once Washington takes further action against Chinese diplomats, Beijing will definitely take reciprocal action on the same scale. If the US obstructs the normal operations of the Chinese consulate in New York, a US consulate of equal status in China will face the same fate. If the US closes another Chinese consulate general, its own consulate general of the same status on Chinese soil (including the one in Hong Kong) will be closed. The Chinese government and people are consistent in this regard.
No doubt China will retaliate against the new US diplomatic provocation. It is hoped the world could see that it is Washington that has been preparing to create a new crisis. China does not wish to escalate confrontation, and will be merely on the defense. But China‘s countermoves are not only necessary, but also just.
The international community also needs to see how the self-interests of the Trump administration and the Republican Party are eroding ties between Beijing and Washington. The two major powers that avoid heading toward fiercer confrontation will play a crucial role in world peace. Yet, Washington is being kidnapped by a group of shameless politicians including Pompeo. They are extremely dangerous forces who are destroying the existing world order and threatening the future of mankind.