China accused the US of bullying other countries to pick sides between the two powers. The comments from Beijing came after a US official said Sri Lanka must make “difficult but necessary choices” in an apparent reference to the South Asian country’s ties with China.
On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said US efforts to bully countries over their ties to Beijing will not succeed. Zhao said Washington’s tactics reflect a “Cold War mentality.”
Zhao responded to comments from US State Department official Dean Thompson, the top US diplomat for South Asia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to South Asia next week to visit Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India, and Indonesia. Thompson said Pompeo will ask Sri Lanka to make a “difficult” choice over its economic relations with Beijing.
“We encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development, in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices,” Thompson said, without mentioning China by name.
US officials have been urging allies not to do business with Beijing. For example, Washington has been pressuring its European allies to ban Huawei, the Chinese tech firm that specializes in 5G technologies. The pressure worked in the UK, where Huawei has been banned.
In September, Pompeo visited Italy and warned the government against the “risks to its national security and the privacy of its citizens presented by technology companies with ties” to the Chinese government.
Pompeo has also been critical of the Vatican’s relation with Beijing, slamming the Catholic Church over a deal the Pope made concerning the appointment of Catholic bishops in China. Despite the US pressure, the Vatican renewed the agreement with Beijing.
Portugal was not happy with an ultimatum received from the US ambassador to the country in September. Ambassador George Glass said that Portugal has to choose between its “friends and allies” in the US or its “economic partner” in China, and described Portugal as a “battlefield” for Washington and Beijing.