When visitors arrive it is a basic norm to extend hospitality. But for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States next month, the American response seems to be one of extending sumptuous hostility.
No doubt, US President Barack Obama will greet his guest with smiles and handshakes, red carpet and banquet at the White House. However, the official American reception barely conceals the seething hostility that Washington is harbouring for the Chinese leader. Duplicitous, schizoid, two-faced, are some of the phrases to describe Washington’s mindset.
Cast your mind back to how Obama was courteously received when he visited Beijing in November 2014. The American leader addressed the Great Hall of the People, with gratitude to President Xi, thanking him for the «extraordinary hospitality that you and the Chinese people have shown to me on this state visit». Obama went on to say: «And it is a fact that when we work together, it’s good for the United States, it’s good for China, and it is good for the world».
Now that President Xi is visiting the US on his first state visit, the American «reception» is certainly going to be «extraordinary» – but not in a complimentary meaning.
Congressmen, led by the hawkish Senator John McCain, are demanding that Obama give Xi a grilling over alleged human rights violations, cyber-hacking and Chinese «expansionism» in Asia-Pacific.
«Leading US senators… urged President Barack Obama to use the visit to Washington next month of Chinese President Xi Jinping to take him to task for an extraordinary assault on human rights», reported Reuters.
There are even calls among American media pundits for Obama to cancel the invitation to the Chinese leader. Writing for the US think-tank ChinaFile, Arthur Waldron said: «In my view the Xi visit should be cancelled… By forcing the Chinese to focus on the real problems their actions are causing and ceasing at least for the time the charade of engagement, such an action would contribute to improvement in relations…They have to clean up their act».
And it’s not just hothead lawmakers and media commentators who are banging the drums against the Chinese president. In a Voice of America report headlined, «US Urges Rights Improvement in China Ahead of Xi Visit», State Department official Tom Malinowski is quoted as saying that the matter would determine whether the Chinese leader’s week-long trip would be a success or not.
Also, Malinowski’s boss at the State Department, US Secretary of State John Kerry last week accused China (and Russia) of snooping on his emails. Kerry made the provocative charge without providing any supporting evidence. He told CBS Evening News: «It is very likely. It is not outside the realm of possibility. We know they have attacked a number of American interests over the course of the last days».
Kerry was basing his tendentious, tenuous claims on similarly unfounded claims of Chinese and Russian cyber-attacks widely reported in America’s leading media outlets.
In a Washington Post article headlined, «With a series of major hacks, China builds a database on Americans», the newspaper reports, as if it is a matter of fact: «China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and US health-care companies… US officials and analysts say».
But, on closer reading, the sensationalist US media reports of «China hacking» of American companies and government agencies are actually scant on any verifiable evidence. The «reports» – if you could call them that – simply rely on vague assertions made by anonymous US officials and «private» internet security firms.
We are thus led to believe that «millions of Americans» are being targeted by Chinese state espionage for recruitment of spies and collaborators – all on the basis of bombastic assertion.
Then America’s top diplomat John Kerry turns around and says in affirmative tones: «We know they have attacked…»
For its part, the Chinese government has dismissed the US claims as «irresponsible and unscientific». It has repeatedly asked for evidence to be produced, which Washington repeatedly withholds, or more accurately, cannot provide.
Similarly, the New York Times this week ran another scare story on «Chinese undercover agents» operating across the US. «The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to pressure prominent expatriates – some wanted in China on charges of corruption – to return home immediately, according to American officials», reports the Times.
Again, note how America’s supposedly finest newspaper reports allegation as if it were indisputable fact, and proceeds to quote un-named officials for the source of its story. The New York Times even admits, amid its lurid claims, that: «The [US] officials declined to provide specific evidence of the activities of the [Chinese] agents». In other words, in just one brief sentence judiciously buried in the text, its convoluted lead story on China’s undercover spies vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Chinese media deprecated the undercover-agents story as «fantasy», saying that Beijing has fully informed Washington, and other governments, of its program to investigate financial criminals who have fled China. Beijing says that its police officers are present in the US under official auspices as part of its international operation to track down expatriates suspected of corruption. The Beijing-based Global Times claimed that the real story is that the US has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the Chinese government in bringing individuals to justice and that Washington is affording these alleged fugitives immunity from prosecution.
According to the Global Times: «The Chinese believe that Washington is not sincere in helping China in its anti-corruption campaign. Some American elites are actually happy to see more corrupt officials fleeing to the US with their enormous piles of ill-gotten gains, and some of them might become a [political] card for the US to play in countering China».
Whether the Chinese government has or has not a case to answer on all these accusations is very much beside the point. And certainly, China is not answerable to Washington. For the United States to make issues about human rights, cyber-hacking and extrajudicial procedures is the stratospheric height of hypocrisy. It’s almost otherworldly in its absurdity.
With the largest prison population on the planet, over two million, and with police forces that shoot dead hundreds of unarmed African-Americans, including children, every year – the US is in no position to lecture any other country on the issue of human rights.
While China (and Russia) is accused with vague speculation over cyber-hacking, it is the American government that has a proven case to answer over illegal global spying against millions of citizens and other governments. When China counters that it is the US that is guilty of cyber-crime, the accusations from Beijing do not just sound plausible: they are supported by facts.
On the matter of extra-territorial security forces, the US is the one that has rendered hundreds of suspects in dozens of countries around the world by forced abduction, throwing their wards into torture centres without any due process. Moreover, President Obama has anointed himself with executive power to summarily assassinate any individual at any time and place of his choosing with killer drones and covert Special Forces.
As for the issue of «territorial expansionism», so far, there are no media reports of China trying to set up missile systems along the borders of Mexico and Canada aimed at the US; in the same way that Washington has actually enlisted Japan and South Korea to target China with installed «self-defense»missiles.
So, as a matter of principle and substance, all the US terms of hostility toward China are nothing less than outrageous duplicity.
And of the highest rank in this heap of American duplicity is the supposed official «hospitality» that Washington is extending to President Xi when he visits next month.
To paraphrase Obama from his Great Hall speech in Beijing in November 2014: «And it is a fact that when we work on you… it is good for the United States».