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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi scolded American Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a phone call Thursday, complaining that Washington’s discomfort with China hosting the Winter Olympics and its support for Taiwan were inconvenient for Beijing.

The conversation, according to a report by the South China Morning Post and reported in Chinese state media, followed the now-familiar pattern of Wang lecturing Blinken on various topics of concern to the Communist Party with Blinken offering few rebuttals or any meaningful disagreement.

The State Department readout of the call did not refute the Chinese government’s version of the call, but did prioritize the conversation over the Biden administration’s concerns in Ukraine rather than Wang’s commentary on the Beijing Olympics or Taiwan.

“Secretary Blinken underscored the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward,” according to the State Department. “The Secretary and Councilor Wang also exchanged views on how to advance work together following President Biden’s virtual meeting with President Xi [Jinping] on November 15, 2021, including on managing strategic risk, health security, and climate change.”

US hasn’t changed course since Xi-Biden summit, China tells Blinken

— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) January 27, 2022

The State Department readout did not mention Taiwan or the Winter Olympics, which the Biden administration claimed it would “boycott” by not sending diplomats to attend the ceremonies surrounding the sports events, but later applied for diplomatic visas for American officials, anyway.

In contrast, the South China Morning Post, citing the Chinese Foreign Ministry, quoted Wang threatening Blinken any pressure on the Chinese Communist Party would “only make the Chinese people more united,” presumably against America.

“The US continues to make wrong words and deeds about China, causing new shocks to the relationship between the two countries,” Wang reportedly said. “Pressure will only make the Chinese people more united, and confrontation will not prevent China from becoming stronger.”

Wang specifically condemned concerns over the Beijing Winter Olympics.

“The top priority right now is that the US should stop interfering with the Beijing Winter Olympics, stop playing with fire on the Taiwan issue, and stop creating all kinds of anti-China small circles,” Wang reportedly asserted.

Human rights activists and victims of communism have spent much of the past year urging the international community to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of the atrocities the Xi regime continues to commit against a large segment of its population. Among the concerning actions boycott supporters highlight are the genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in East Turkistan; the cultural genocide of the peoples of Tibet and Inner Mongolia; the persecution of Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and other people of faith in the Han community; and the disappearance of nearly anyone deemed inconvenient by the state, including former Interpol President Meng Hongwei and Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai.

In this July 4, 2017 file photo, Interpol President, Meng Hongwei, walks toward the stage to deliver his opening address at the Interpol World congress in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Peng disappeared after accusing the former heading of the Chinese Olympics Committee, Zhang Gaoli, of raping her. As Peng herself is a former Olympian, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has played interference in the scandal, claiming that it has spoken to her and gathered information confirming that she is safe despite her abrupt vanishing from public life. Peng has since only briefly resurfaced to deny her own accusations.

This combination of file photos shows tennis player Peng Shuai of China (L) during her women’s singles first round match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2017; and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R) during a visit to Russia at the Saint Petersburg International Investment Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2015. (PAUL CROCK,ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration rejected calls for the United States to boycott the Olympics. Instead, the State Department announced it would engage in a “diplomatic boycott,” not sending diplomats to the event. A “diplomatic boycott” is not a boycott, as the Olympics Games are a series of athletic events and diplomats are not athletes.

Student activists, some wearing masks with the colors of the pro-independence East Turkistan flag, shout slogans during a rally to protest the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, outside the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

The Biden administration failed to keep even this promise, however; as of last week, the South Morning Morning Post estimates that as many as 46 American diplomats have applied for visas to attend the Beijing Olympics. The State Department has not denied that it has applied for visas.

Elsewhere in the conversation, Wang reportedly condemned Blinken’s government for opposing a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The security of one country cannot be at the expense of the security of other countries, and regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or expanding military blocs,” Wang reportedly told Blinken. “Russia’s reasonable security concerns should be taken seriously and resolved.”

The Morning Post report on the call aligns with that of the Global Times, a Chinese regime publication.

“China and the US should follow through on the important consensus reached by the heads of state of the two countries, and expand the positive aspects of bilateral cooperation,” the state outlet summarized Wang as saying.

The Times also paraphrased Blinken’s participation in the call as conciliatory.

“Blinken said it is important that the two foreign ministers maintain regular communication, insisting that there is no change in Biden’s position stated during the summit between the two heads of state,” according to the state propaganda newspaper. “The US and China have both overlapping interests and differences, and the US is willing to manage differences in a responsible manner. US’ one-China policy has not changed, Blinken added.”

The Times also attributed well-wishes to China on the Lunar New Year to Blinken, as well as enthusiasm over America’s participation in the Beijing Games.

Blinken has yet to successfully present an assertive defense of American policies when engaging with the Chinese Communist Party. His most infamous engagement occurred in March with Wang and senior Politburo member Yang Jiechi in Anchorage, Alaska. At the summit, which had no coherent agenda, Yang engaged in a 16-minute rant in which he condemned America citing “Black Lives Matter” and accusing the United States of “deep-seated” human rights abuses.

“China has made steady progress in human rights, and the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights,” Yang proclaimed.

Blinken did not emphasize the fact that China is currently engaging in state-sponsored genocide or significantly refute the claim that America has “many” human rights problems. The Chinese government considered the summit such a diplomatic victory that Chinese companies sold commemorative tote bags decorated with Yang quotes shortly after it concluded.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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Turkey reminds Blinken that Ukraine gives Erdogan leverage in NATO dispute

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s objection to NATO’s acceptance of Sweden and Finland as full allies has raised the geopolitical stakes of simmering disputes between Turkey and NATO’s U.S. and European members at a moment of growing Western dependence on Turkish security assistance.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met in New York for their first meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Strategic Security Mechanism. That process began last month against the backdrop of their joint opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine after years of tension stemming from Syria's civil war and Erdogan’s transactional relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the unexpected split over NATO expansion has cast a shadow on the fence-mending effort.

“Today we had Finland and Sweden submit their applications, and this of course is a process, and we will work through that process as Allies and as partners,” Blinken said. “We have a lot on our common agenda, including, of course, Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine. The United States, Turkey, all of our allies have been resolute in support of Ukraine, and we want to see this Russian aggression come to an end. I’m grateful for the solidarity that we’ve shown, that Turkey has shown in that effort.”

Recent necessity has obscured some of the controversies that rocked U.S.-Turkey ties in recent years, most notably the Pentagon's expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program in response to Erdogan's purchase of advanced Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. The extension of that solidarity with respect to Sweden and Finland could come at a price, as Turkish officials acknowledge that the Nordic states’ need for Erdogan’s acquiescence to their admission into the alliance has presented a unique opportunity.


“Yes, we see the threat in our region, and that’s the reason we see that Finland and Sweden want to be NATO [members], new [members],” Cavusoglu said. “So what I am trying to say [is] we understand their security concerns, but Turkey’s security concerns should be also met.”

Turkish officials have accused the Nordic states of supporting terrorists on the grounds that both countries have refused to deport Turkish nationals that Ankara has accused of loyalty to the PKK, an ethnic Kurdish militant group, and FETO, an organization led by an erstwhile Erdogan ally whom the Turkish president has blamed for a coup attempt in 2016. Cavusoglu also protested the “export restrictions on defense products” imposed by Sweden and Finland after Turkey’s attack on the Syrian Kurdish militias that partnered with the United States and other allies to dismantle the territorial holdings of the Islamic State group.

“It would be unthinkable for NATO, which has faced criticism for two decades for its failure to promote cooperation and coordination between its members in the war on terror, to consider acceding to any nation that has not made a clear decision on terrorist organizations,” Erdogan spokesman Fahrettin Altun said Wednesday.

Those Turkish complaints about Sweden and Finland might well function as a proxy dispute with the U.S., as Washington has been aligned with the Nordic states on the policy issues that Erdogan has raised. The 82-year-old cleric regarded as the leader of FETO, Fethullah Gulen, has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999. (The U.S. government during both the Trump and Biden administrations has refused to extradite him to Turkey for lack of evidence.) Similarly, U.S. officials denounced Turkey’s incursion into Syria as an attack on the partner forces that bore the brunt of the fighting against ISIS.

“Finland and Sweden are longtime, stalwart partners of the United States,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday. “While their applications for NATO membership are being considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression.”

Cavusoglu did not come to New York empty-handed, as he paired Turkey’s complaints with a show of support for a U.S.-led initiative to press Russia to allow the export of Ukraine’s vast stores of grain before a worsening food crisis turns into a deadly shortage.

“Russia's aggression poses a significant challenge, as both countries are major global food suppliers, and decreasing their ability to produce and export will directly impact global food security,” he said during a U.N. meeting on food security. “We need international collaboration to ensure that this war doesn't worsen the hunger crisis.”


Blinken put a premium on that assistance in their bilateral meeting. “So we’re going to spend some time both together and then with our colleagues talking about the steps that we can take in the near term to help alleviate food insecurity as well as some of the more medium-term and longer-term steps to build a stronger system,” he said.

News Foreign Policy National Security NATO Turkey U.S.-Turkey relations Finland Sweden War in Ukraine Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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