Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet Chinese officials at Hickam Air Force base in Hawaii this week, two U.S. officials and a western diplomat told CNN on Sunday. Pompeo will discuss multiple issues with the Chinese officials on Monday, and will be in Hawaii for about 24 hours.
The discussions come as the relationship between Washington and Beijing has grown increasingly strained amid multiple crises. Most recently, China has launched a propaganda campaign against the U.S. amid the George Floyd protests.
“How would those politicians or media in the U.S. report it if this happened in China, Russia, or any other country?” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday in a press briefing.
Pompeo called China’s comments “laughable propaganda.” In a statement, he said Beijing was engaging in “callous exploitation of the tragic death of George Floyd” in order to “justify its authoritarian denial of basic human dignity.”
Meanwhile, Twitter said on Thursday that it removed more than 170,000 accounts from China-linked influence campaigns involving the Hong Kong protests, coronavirus pandemic and Floyd protests in the U.S.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has also caused tensions, with more than 115,000 Americans dead from the virus. President Trump has blamed China for the outbreak.
“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government. China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and over a million lives worldwide,” Trump said on May 29 in the White House Rose Garden. The virus reportedly originated at an animal and seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
China has denied the accusations of malfeasance and even started a conspiracy theory that the virus was brought to China by the U.S. Army. After Trump barred Chinese visitors from traveling to the U.S. in February, Beijing said Washington’s actions “could only create and spread fear.”
The Trump administration has also been sharply critical of a Beijing-backed national security law in Hong Kong. Trump has moved to treat Hong Kong like the rest of China when it comes to trade.
In January, the U.S. and China agreed to a “Phase One” trade deal, with Beijing buying $200 billion in U.S. agricultural and other products over the next two years. In return, Washington would call off its planned tariff increases on Chinese goods. Trade between China and the U.S. rose by $39.7 billion in April, up nearly 43% from the month before. The World Bank projects China to have positive economic growth this year.
“China looks like it could be the biggest engine of global GDP growth in 2020 and maybe 2021,” Craig Allen, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council, told the Wall Street Journal. “We want American companies to benefit from that absolutely.”