Last week the US secretary of State visited Italy to lobby for cooperation over 5G security and China wasn’t happy about it.
Since the Chinese state doesn’t have the most open relationship with the press, we’re usually dependent the domestic media for its public position, since they won’t publish anything that would get them in trouble. Often this means the Global Times, which publishes a well-stocked English-language edition.
While the op-eds are often the closets thing we’ll get to an official statement, occasionally a Chinese official get the green light to give direct quotes, as per this GT report. “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s smearing remarks about China on human rights and religious subjects during his visit to Rome, the capital of Italy, reeked of ideological prejudice and ignorance toward China, renounced the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Italy.”
As well the usual message about Huawei being too dodgy to be allowed anywhere near 5G networks, Mike Pompeo also had a pop at China’s attitude to religious freedom during a visit to the Vatican. He presumably had the treatment of Uighur Muslims in mind and, while this is not itself a telecoms matter, the behaviour of the Chinese state in general is what is being used as the pretext for the Huawei sanctions.
The GT piece goes on to spout the usual propaganda about how great everything is in China for everyone, but it did manage some more entertaining barbs from the Chinese Embassy in Italy. “The embassy then quoted an Italian idiom “chi semina vento, raccoglie tempest” (which translates to “you reap what you sow” in English), noting that the jabbering Pompeo would do well to keep his mouth shut about issues that are quite literally “foreign” to him.”
Europe is the focus of a tug-of-love between the US and China, with Huawei stuck right in the middle of it. No sooner has a Chinese delegation finished its tour of the continent than Pompeo gets another boost to his airmiles. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the US is winning this battle, China might as well take the gloves off and deliver a few parting shots.