US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a joint news conference in The Hague, Netherlands. -Reuters
Beijing has found its villain in its multi-fronted conflict with the United States: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.The former CIA chief has been singled out for scorn, in Chinese state media and even at the foreign ministry, over his criticism of everything from Chinese tech giant Huawei to its record on human rights.During a regular media briefing on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry accused Pompeo by name of telling lies, a striking departure from its usual practice of referring to foreign officials as "the relevant person", or using similar wording.
Relations between the world's two largest economies have nosedived amid a bitter trade war, U.S. sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Washington's support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan and criticism of a China's treatment of Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang.Pompeo has also angered Beijing with warnings about Chinese activity in the Arctic and President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road infrastructure program.
On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry took Pompeo to task for an interview with Swiss media where he criticized Huawei. "For some time, Mr. Pompeo has been talking about China wherever he goes. Unfortunately his remarks are filled with lies and fallacies," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters."Mr. Pompeo should understand a plain truth. That is, every smear campaign with rumor-mongering and discord-sowing will only whittle down further his credibility and that of his country, the United States."
One Chinese official acknowledged to Reuters the "rare direct mention" of Pompeo by name at the ministry's daily briefing, its main venue for getting messages out to the rest of the world. Chinese state media, given a long leash by propaganda authorities to lash out at the United States since the latest trade talks failed last month, has also not minced words.
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