Tensions between the U.S. and China have reached heightened levels after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will regard China with a new strategy of “distrust and verify” and China accused the U.S. of backward thinking.
“The current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the U.S. is responsible for all this,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Friday in response to America's closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.
“We once again urge the U.S. to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track,” he added.
The Trump administration's decision to close the consulate came after reports surfaced of files being burned in the consulate courtyard earlier this week. Houston police and fire-fighters responded to reports of smoke rising from the courtyard and visible trash cans on fire, but were not allowed to enter the premises due to jurisdictional rights.
The State Department responded by granting the consulate three days to cease operations and vacate the premises.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told Fox News the decision to close the consulate was “to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information.”
Pompeo then gave a scathing speech at the Nixon Library Thursday and called the Houston consulate a “hub of spying and IP theft,” adding that the relationship between China and the U.S. had drastically changed since President Nixon’s 1972 trip to China –which marked a shift towards a harmonious relationship between the two countries.
“The old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done,” Pompeo said. “We must not continue it. We must not return to it.”
“President Reagan dealt with the Soviets on the basis of 'trust but verify.' When it comes to the CCP [Communist Party of China], I say, “distrust and verify,” Pompeo said, signifying a change in the relationship.
“China noticed that Pompeo chose the Richard Nixon Presidential Library as the venue to deliver his speech,” Wenbin said during Friday’s press conference.
“On the U.S. side, President Richard Nixon started the process of normalizing China-U.S. relations, a contributor to the development of bilateral relationship,” the spokesperson said. “However, for those US politicians who have been making and spreading lies and rumors against China, history is a fair judge.”
Nixon’s visit in 1972 was the first U.S. presidential visit since the Communist party took hold of the government in 1949.
“We urge the U.S. government to discard its Cold-War mindset and ideological bias, view China and China-U.S. relations in a fair manner, refrain from negative words and deeds, and create conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track,” Wenbin said Friday.
The Chinese government closed an American consulate in Chengdu, China Friday, most likely in retaliation for the Houston consulate closure.