Return to

June 16, 2022
Notes from the Pentagon

China to U.S.: Leave communist system alone

By Bill Gertz
A senior Chinese Communist Party official this week repeated Beijing’s demand that the United States not seek to overthrow the communist system.

Yang Jiechi, dubbed “Tiger Yang” for his virulent anti-U.S. positions, made the comment during a lengthy meeting with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Luxembourg on Monday.

The White House provided few public details on the conversation other than to say in a statement the exchange between the two officials was “candid, substantive and productive.” “Candid” is often diplomatic code for a harsh verbal exchange.

U.S. secrecy surrounding the discussion reflects what analysts see as increasingly conciliatory policies by the Biden administration toward China. Critics say that the administration has sought to pursue a sporting-like “competition” with Beijing rather than confronting the Chinese over such contentious issues as China’s aggressive nuclear buildup, its increasingly threatening military activities toward Taiwan and its continued theft of U.S. data and technology.

The White House statement said the meeting was a follow-up to a telephone call between Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Yang in May. The Luxembourg meeting also touched on regional and global security and U.S.-China relations.

By contrast, Chinese state media provided much greater detail on Mr. Yang’s presentation to the United States, including his admonition that the U.S. change its policies to support Chinese goals, including preservation of the communist system.

Mao’s Communists came to power in China in 1949 and have used deception and quasi-capitalist means to develop the country. Under President Xi Jinping, communism ideology has been revived and is now being exported as an alternative to the U.S.-led democratic system.

Mr. Yang is a member of the political bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and director of the panel’s foreign affairs commission.

Both are party positions, reflecting the fact that under Mr. Xi, the formal government has taken a back seat to the party in dealings with the United States, even as bilateral relations have grown increasingly tense in recent years.

The official party outlet Xinhua stated in its report on the meeting that Mr. Yang pressed Mr. Sullivan on a reported promise made by President Biden to Mr. Xi that the United States “does not seek a new Cold War or aim to change China‘s system.”

Communist Party leaders in recent years have adopted an almost paranoid fear of being overthrown and have accused the CIA and other U.S. institutions of seeking to subvert and ultimately defeat the communist system.

Xinhua said Mr. Yang also pressed Mr. Sullivan on other reported pledges from Mr. Biden, such as that the United States will not oppose China through strengthened regional alliances or by backing Taiwan independence, and will not seek a direct conflict with China.

“The Chinese side attaches high importance to these statements,” Mr. Yang was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

As for the candid part of the exchange, Xinhua revealed that Mr. Yang criticized the United States for allegedly “containing and suppressing China in an all-around way.”

“Such acts, instead of helping the United States solve its own problems, have plunged China-U.S. relations into a very difficult situation and severely damaged the exchanges and cooperation in bilateral areas, Yang said,” the news agency reported.

A senior Biden administration official said Mr. Sullivan did not press China on its military buildup or military provocations near Taiwan, but instead called for China to release Americans detained illegally in China.

“The national security advisor pressed for progress on key issues of concern to the United States, in particular, underscoring the need for the release of American citizens wrongfully detained and subjected to exit bans in China,” the official said. “On this issue, in particular, he stressed this as a personal priority for both himself and for the president.”

Asked if Mr. Biden will meet with Mr. Xi in the future, the senior official said, “I’d expect to see additional potential meetings in the months ahead, but nothing specific [is] planned at this time.”

Mr. Sullivan asked Mr. Yang to help address increasingly belligerent behavior by North Korea, including missile launches and a potential nuclear test, the official said.

The official would not say if Mr. Sullivan questioned Mr. Yang on China’s large-scale buildup of nuclear forces.

According to Xinhua, Mr. Yang told Mr. Sullivan that bilateral relations are at a critical juncture and demanded the United States observe Mr. Xi’s three demands for mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and what Beijing calls “win-win cooperation.” Mr. Yang also said China is prepared to work with the United States if it agrees to Mr. Xi’s demands, but that “China firmly opposes using competition to define bilateral ties.”

The CCP official told Mr. Sullivan that the United States must correct its strategic perception of China and translate Mr. Biden’s commitments about not overthrowing the communist system into “concrete actions.”

Mr. Yang in particular denounced U.S. support for Taiwan, noting China considers the Taiwan issue an internal affair and that any attempt to undermine national unity would fail. Taiwan is an issue that is the “political foundation” of U.S.-China ties and, “unless handled properly, will have a subversive impact,” Mr. Yang said.

Mr. Yang also reportedly hammered Mr. Sullivan on U.S. criticism of China for its crackdown in Xinjiang, repression in Tibet, repression of democracy in Hong Kong and military activities in the South China Sea.

The CCP-controlled outlet Global Times said Mr. Yang demanded the United States follow the advice of pro-China experts like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and ease bilateral tensions. The outlet said that U.S. “arrogance” and disregarding Chinese demands were to blame for tense relations.

“Crazily suppressing China on one hand, and expecting China to ‘cooperate’ on the other, …[is] an extremely selfish idea” that has not been realized by the U.S. in the past and will never be realized in the future,” the Global Times said.

Russian nuclear threats limit West’s support for Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons against the West in response to the Ukraine war has limited some U.S. and NATO actions toward the conflict, according to a report by a national security think tank.

“Russian nuclear threats preceded the Ukraine war but have not abated,” said Stephen Blank, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute and author of the study. “These threats influence Western responses to the war since they build upon earlier threats and exercises showing that Russia will use nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict to force acceptance of its terms.”

The report by the National Institute for Public Policy argues that the nuclear danger has produced “pervasive anxiety” that inhibited Western relief efforts in Ukraine, such as derailing calls for a NATO-enforced air exclusion zone over Ukraine or sending advanced warplanes to Kyiv.

“Western restraint has encouraged repeated and unrestrained Russian threats of nuclear use that are taken as inherently credible ones, even as Western deterrence is not seen as credible,” the report said. “This trend destabilizes the balance of deterrence.”

Russia’s nuclear weapons strategy in the Ukraine war seeks to intimidate and deter NATO from reacting, providing Moscow with “escalation dominance and thus the strategic initiative and freedom of action throughout all stages of a crisis,” the report says.

The overall goal is the creation “of a seamless web of threats to Russian enemies from both conventional and nuclear weapons to retain that escalation control.”

Nuclear forces exercises and saber-rattling regarding the use of nuclear arms have provided a window on Moscow’s concept of strategic deterrence in action.

“Meanwhile Russia will continue to use its remaining nuclear trump card and other kinetic and non-kinetic instruments to undermine Ukraine,” the report states.

The report urges NATO leaders to move faster and more broadly at the conventional force level to undermine the force of Moscow’s nuclear threats: “Otherwise Russia may continue to delude itself into believing that it has actually salvaged something from the debacle it has unleashed upon Ukraine and Russia itself.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

  • Return to