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Esper’s Mooted ‘China Visit’ More Hegemonic Bluster, or an Attempt To Communicate?

July 23, 2020 (EIRNS)—When Secretary of Defense Mark Esper indicated on July 21 in a video event with the British International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) that he hoped to visit China “before the end of the year,” it raised some eyebrows in Washington, as well as in Beijing. As far as is known, no invitation has been extended. And there is great uncertainty as to whether such a visit would provide any respite from the intense anti-China campaign being conducted in an almost whole-of-government effort. If Esper were to go to China to “read them the Riot Act,” as he indicated in so many words he might do, one would urge him to stay at home. But if there is an effort to genuinely “establish the necessary crisis communication system” with China, which he also indicated, it could have a positive value.

But the jury remains out at the moment, and whether China will extend such an invitation is no doubt being debated in Beijing. The June 17 Hawaii meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Yang Jiechi was a complete wash-out, and it probably could have been predicted that that would be so, given Pompeo’s “messianic” obsession to take down the Chinese Communist Party. But the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship has maintained itself to a large extent throughout all the ups and downs in U.S.-China relations over the years, given the fact that a cut-off of communications here could quickly lead to misunderstandings and to possible war. And given the intensified “encounters” of both militaries recently in the South China Sea, there may be concerns by both parties that such a visit should occur.

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