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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Pompeo under a spell, says China after he slams BRI project in Delhi

Both Washington and New Delhi have stayed away from the BRI with the former describing it as a debt trap and the latter having sovereignty issues because its flagship artery, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2019 18:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
With Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar by his side, Pompeo said countries which have signed up for BRI, a cluster of infrastructure projects connecting China to the rest of Asia and beyond, don’t just have “strings attached but shackles”.
With Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar by his side, Pompeo said countries which have signed up for BRI, a cluster of infrastructure projects connecting China to the rest of Asia and beyond, don’t just have “strings attached but shackles”.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
         

China on Thursday said US secretary of state Mike Pompeo was “under a spell or something” while slamming his comments in New Delhi that Beijing’s international connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), comes with shackles and not strings.

With Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar by his side, Pompeo said countries which have signed up for BRI, a cluster of infrastructure projects connecting China to the rest of Asia and beyond, don’t just have “strings attached but shackles”.

Both Washington and New Delhi have stayed away from the BRI with the former describing it as a debt trap and the latter having sovereignty issues because its flagship artery, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir.

Pompeo’s statement comes ahead of President Xi Jinping’s meeting with US counterpart, Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Osaka in Japan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet both Xi and Trump.

In Beijing, the foreign ministry was quick to react to Pompeo’s statement after a state media outlet asked for a comment on it.

“I don’t know if Mr Pompeo is under a spell or something, but he keeps talking about BRI wherever he goes. Unfortunately, people don’t seem to be listening to him and his slandering of the BRI,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang said at the regular ministry briefing on Thursday.

Geng added: “And his efforts to try to persuade others to stay away from the initiative don’t seem to be working either. Why is it? Mr. Pompeo should give it some thought. If the BRI comes with shackles then why (have) so many countries and organizations supported and participated in it?”

Geng, directly referring to Pompeo and using strong words, said BRI was helping underdeveloped countries in putting up infrastructure.

“Without BRI projects who will help these countries with their infrastructure development and economic growth? Will it be the US who is putting America first? Will the US actually take concrete measures? I think the international community sees that crystal clear and Mr. Pompeo know this deep in his heart. Here, I would like to advise the US to stop their one-man show as there is no audience,” Geng added.

Taking a cue from the government, the Chinese state media has been critical of Pompeo. “Judging from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s behaviour, we wonder if the mania of the ‘cold war’ has already pervaded him. He has repeatedly made aggressive remarks on key sensitive issues involving China, Russia, and Iran in recent days. In today’s global arena, his extreme political bias and arrogant ideological clamour are phenomenally abominable. As a top US diplomat, he is more like the complainer-in-chief,” the nationalistic tabloid, the Global Times said in an editorial.

“Pompeo tells a lie, and then forces US allies to call white black. Otherwise, punishments await these countries. He warned Washington allies that importing Chinese 5G technology would ‘make it more difficult for us to partner alongside them,” pushing them to take sides, it said.

“Chinese people will remember Pompeo as a representative who breaks the bottom line of US diplomatic ethics. Letting such a person dominate US diplomacy will unsettle the world and put global peace at risk.”

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 18:43 IST

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