Yellen commits protocol error, bowing multiple times to Beijing counterpart – flagged by critics as stunning weakness
07/12/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had a "facepalm moment" when she met with China's Vice Premier He Lifeng and bowed effusively as soon as he shook the hand of the top Chinese official. In contrast, He, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s new economy czar, stood erect and backed away as if giving more room for Yellen's "big movements." After bowing at least three times, she also stumbled over He's name, calling him 'Vice Premier Hu.'

Former White House staffer Bradley Blakeman, who served during President George W. Bush's administration, told the New York Post that Yellen's kowtowing to the Chinese official was inappropriate. "Never, ever, ever – an American official does not bow," said Blakeman. "It looks like she’s been summoned to the principal’s office, and that's exactly the optics the Chinese love." Blakeman added that the way to treat an adversary is not to go hat in hand. "But with this administration, time and time again, we embarrass ourselves and show weakness," he added.

Jerome A. Cohen, an emeritus professor at New York University and expert in Chinese law and government, agreed with Blakemen that bowing is not part of the accepted protocol. Author Max Murray also shared the same stance. "And it just shows the lack of effective leverage we have. She did not realize bowing as an American official was a breach of protocol. They don't reciprocate. He even backs away to give her more space to kowtow."

Here's a video of what happened courtesy of the DailyMail.

Meanwhile, despite the major boo-boos, Yellen claimed that the trip to Beijing cemented the foreign relationships on "surer footing."

The ex-chair of the Federal Reserve before becoming President Joe Biden's top financial official, as well as the Beijing officials, claimed that the four-day trip was fruitful, although the visit – designed to help smooth a rocky relationship – did not generate any concrete agreements. Yellen stressed the need for healthy economic competition and improved communication and urged cooperation on the 'existential threat' posed by climate change.

"We believe that the world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive," she told journalists at the U.S. embassy in Beijing on Sunday. "Both nations have an obligation to responsibly manage this relationship: to find a way to live together and share in global prosperity."

Her trip came on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit, as part of a Biden administration push to improve communication between the two superpower nations.

Beijing proves dominance in tech and military wars over the West

This week, just days before Yellen arrived, China suddenly announced new export restrictions on gallium and germanium, two metals crucial for semiconductor manufacture. According to Beijing, the need to "safeguard national security and interests" in what was widely seen as a retaliatory move in the wake of American curbs on Chinese tech is essential. Business Insider reported that exporters should apply for export licenses if they want to continue shipping the products out of China, per the notice.

For critics, news of the export curb is seen as a retaliatory move by Beijing in the country's tech war with the West. China seems to be making a statement that despite Yellen's claim to be on good terms with them, they'd need to show their power over countries being supported by Western allies.

Also, soon after Yellen landed in the Asian country, the nation sent 13 People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft and six vessels into the airspace and waters around Taiwan, which the Communist Party of China (CCP) claims as its own. Xi also addressed his commanders at the Jiangsu province headquarters, stressing efforts to … break new ground for theater command development and war preparedness. Beijing also objects vigorously to U.S. military support for Taiwan and criticized the upcoming $440 million sale of cannon shells and other equipment, accusing the U.S. of turning Taiwan into a powder keg.

"The way to treat an adversary is, you don’t go hat in hand," Blakeman said. "But with this administration, time and time again, we embarrass ourselves and show weakness. And it just shows the lack of effective leverage we have."

Visit to read more about China's efforts to dominate the West, their allies and the whole world.

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