Who are the architects of American policy towards China?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left yesterday for Hawaii to meet a Chinese delegation led by Yang Jiechi. The discourse and language of the US administration have gradually changed in recent months. They use language elements worthy of the websites and Internet channels of US-based Chinese media, which are positioned in opposition to the Beijing government. They talk more about Chinese viruses or the Chinese Communist Party instead of COVID 19 or China. The channel 華爾街電視 and the Washington Times gave details this week about Pompeo’s China team.  A small group, which wants to be realistic against China, has been formed.  Three personalities stand out.

余茂春, Miles Yu

One very influential man is a professor in the history department of the American Naval Academy; his subject is China, Southeast Asia, diplomatic and military history. Of Chinese origin, Miles Yu, born in 1962, grew up in Chongqing, went through the Cultural Revolution as a child before studying in Tianjin, immigrating to the United States in 1985 and completing a Ph.D. at Berkeley. He was a great advocate for freedom and democracy in China after the Tiananmen protests in 1989. He is one of the architects of the new policy towards China. It allows this team to better decipher and read between the lines of the Chinese strategy and discourse.

余茂春 Pompeo

David Stilwell

General David Stilwell, Assistant to the Secretary of State for Southeast Asia and Pacific Affairs, is another important member of this group. He calls Yu a “National Treasure” for the quality of his contributions. Stilwell came to replace Susan Thornton in October 2018, who was not considered tough enough on China.

Matthew Pottinger

Pottinger is the National Security Advisor. This former Wall Street Journal journalist, who was stationed in Beijing in the early 2000s, is a sinologist and is considered to be the linchpin of this change in policy. A sinophone, he gave a political speech in excellent Mandarin on May 4, 2020, on the May 4, 1919 movement. He compared this popular movement to the one that led Trump to the White House. Of course, on the Beijing side, there was a lack of understanding of this patriotic event, which was opposed to feudalism and colonialism.

Trump made it clear that the former US presidents did not “do the job” with China by letting the great Asian rival catch up with America. He wants to rebalance the positions. Is the team in place going to be still so aggressive? What influence can Steve Bannon, a former Trump advisor and associate with China’s loudest dissident, Guo Wengui, have in an anti-communist crusade? Will the meeting in Hawaii mean a lull?

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17 June 2020

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