Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US, China must find face-saving ways to break chain of retaliation



US, China must find face-saving ways to break chain of retaliation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A protester holds a US flag outside the Chinese consulate in Houston after the US ordered China to close the consulate. AFP

US, China must find face-saving ways to break chain of retaliation

The escalating confrontation between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies, could further destabilise the international situation. Both countries should realise their heavy responsibilities and stop the chain of retaliation.

The US has shut down the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, Texas, in the southwestern part of the country, on grounds that it was used as a “hub of Chinese spying”.

As a countermeasure, China has closed the US Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and claimed that some personnel at the consulate general were “conducting activities not in line with their identities”.

The role of a consulate general is to protect its own country’s citizens, be aware of the situation in the country where it is located and engage in dialogue and exchange with the host country. However, taking advantage of a Vienna Convention article on the inviolability of foreign diplomatic missions, major powers often engage in intense intelligence-gathering activities.

There are many cases in which a diplomat who is believed to be a spy is deported. However, it is unusual for a country to close a diplomatic mission of another country without specifying concrete illicit activities of that country. This can be regarded as a serious aspect of the confrontation between the US and China.

The practice of using the closure of diplomatic missions as a sanction must not spread to other countries and hamper legitimate diplomatic activities.

In his policy speech on China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that engagement with China by past US administrations that aimed to incorporate China into the international community had been a failure, and called for a change in the engagement policy. He also stressed the need for democratic countries to unite to contain China.

As opportunities for dialogue between the US and China have been reduced due to the spread of Covid-19, continued retaliatory battles could escalate tensions and develop into an unforeseen conflict. If the US takes excessive hard-line measures, it will not be able to win the support of Japan and European countries.

Suspicions still linger that US President Donald Trump is showing a confrontational attitude toward China in order to strengthen his support for the presidential election in November. The Xi administration also is apparently being forced to take a hard-line attitude toward the US to avoid domestic criticism of a “soft attitude” and maintain its prestige.

Both the US and China must regain their composure and find ways to settle the situation.

Editorial/THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN (JAPAN)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian