By Eric Mack | Sunday, 09 July 2023
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s multiple bows Saturday to her Chinese counterpart – who stood tall and did not reciprocate – is being criticized for showing American weakness.
"Never, ever, ever," a senior staffer for former President George W. Bush, Bradley Blakeman, told the New York Post. "An American official does not bow.
"It looks like she’s been summoned to the principal’s office, and that’s exactly the optics the Chinese love."
Video showed Yellen repeatedly bowing her head and leaning forward three times quickly in succession, while the Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng stood tall and shook her hand. He is China’s new economy czar, the Yellen equivalent.
"Bowing is not part of the accepted protocol," China law and government expert at NYU Jerome Cohen told the Post.
Then, Yellen, 76, called He "Vice Premier Hu" to open the first economic summit between President Joe Biden’s administration and China’s Xi Jinping.
"I strongly believe that the relationship between our two countries is rooted in the solid ties between the American and Chinese people," Yellen said in a prepared statement she read as she ran a finger along her lines, according to the Post. "It is important that we keep nurturing and deepening these ties."
It was a broad swipe at the Biden administration allowing China to continue to hold much of America’s debt, while it fails to press China on issues like climate change.
"We also face important global challenges, such as debt distress in emerging markets and developing countries and climate change," Yellen said. "We have a duty to both our own economies and to other countries to cooperate."
But experts noted Yellen was far too submissive, both in words and optics.
"The way to treat an adversary is, you don’t go hat in hand," Blakeman told the Post. "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."