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Xi Jinping the 'most unpleasant' among leaders I met as secretary: Pompeo

'Personally, I thought Xi was dour. While Putin can be funny and mirthful, even while being evil, Xi was not so serious as dead-eyed. I never once saw an unforced smile'

Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo

Press Trust of India Washington
Mike Pompeo has said that among the dozens of world leaders he met as the US Secretary of State he found the "most unpleasant" was Chinese President Xi Jinping, who threatened to stop sending PPF kits to America if it kept asking for accountability from Beijing on Covid-19.
In his book titled 'Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,' former US Secretary of State Pompeo, 59, writes that he held multiple interactions with the Chinese leader and found him "dour" and a "quintessential Communist apparatchik".
He writes that Xi told stories about Chinese victimhood and talked about his "demands to avenge grievances from long before any of us were born.
"Personally, I thought Xi was dour. While Putin can be funny and mirthful, even while being evil, Xi was not so serious as dead-eyed. I never once saw an unforced smile, Pompeo writes in the book that hit the bookstores on Tuesday.
I also found Xi a quintessential Communist apparatchik: heavy in the abstract, light on the issues under discussion, and always eager to impose his views, even while he pretends to be listening to you. He fit the psychological profile of an East German or Soviet Communist I came to study during my Army days, Pompeo notes.
The former US Secretary of State writes in the book about his several interactions with the 69-year-old Chinese leader.
Pompeo notes that Xi talked in "hollow tones" and was always in search of words, phrases, and archaic Chinese proverbs of questionable clarity.
"My China policy advisor at the State Department, Miles Yu, later told me that CCP leaders in general, and General Secretary Xi in particular, deploy overwrought erudition to play gullible American leaders, he said.
Of the dozens of world leaders I met, he was among the most unpleasant. How's that for telling the hard truth? Having now seen the regime personified at the highest level, I was gripped by just how different its leaders were from the Chinese people, Pompeo said.
He says a small business he ran in Kansas, with an operation in Shanghai that employed fewer than 15 people, enabled him to travel to China several times in the early 2000s.
"I had come to love the Chinese people, and I still do. It saddened me that the American model of engagement with China had emboldened a regime with such utter disdain for basic human dignity and that viewed its own people as cogs in the Marxist system of power, he writes.
Xi, 69, was re-elected as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China for a record third five-year term last year, a privilege only accorded to party founder Mao Zedong.
Referring to his first meeting with Xi, Pompeo said he sized him up and told him what he thought.
It was clear that he sought to take the measure of me and the Trump team, too. He had already met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017. On that occasion, Trump disclosed that he had ordered a strike against Syria and other targets just a few minutes earlier. Undoubtedly, Xi knew this was not Team Obama. My message in Beijing reinforced it, he said.
In the book, Pompeo writes that at the peak of Covid-19 crisis, Xi told then-president Donald Trump that continued calls for accountability would jeopardise America's ability to receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shipped from China.
Coronavirus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in early December 2019 before spreading across the world, killing over 6 million people globally upending businesses.
According to the WHO, as of January 27, 2023, there have been 752,517,552 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 6,804,491 deaths.
"The United States was still in the early stages of understanding what we were up against, and the president made the tough call that putting America first meant not jeopardising our ability to procure potentially life-saving equipment from China, Pompeo writes.
At the same time, however, I was determined to impose accountability by telling the truth. I knew that the CCP already was not happy with me, he said.
Pompeo said that on March 25, he held a press conference at the State Department and tore into the party over its decision to hide a looming global disaster.
He says that he suspects that his harsh words influenced Trump's previously scheduled call with Xi the next evening, March 26.
I joined the call from a secure location, while the president was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It started off cordially, as Xi offered Eastern medicines that he assured us would stem the symptoms of COVID-19, if Trump needed them. Yet Xi's real mission was to get me fired, Pompeo writes.
He railed against me: Pompeo has defamed the Chinese people. Pompeo is antagonistic and a pugilist without reason. Pompeo is risking the trade deal we signed two months ago. Pompeo is immature and jeopardises all we've built together. I'm sure that he knew I was on the call, so I admired his directness, if not his objective, he wrote.
Pompeo writes that soon after the call, Trump called him and said: My Mike, that fing guy hates you!.
"We should chat in the morning, as the hour was late in DC, but that I needed to 'shut the hell up for a while.' We needed that health equipment from China, he said, Pompeo writes.
At his direction, I committed to a temporary rhetorical ceasefire. There was only one moment when I thought my job might be at risk. I'd watched President Trump aim his ire at many cabinet officials over the previous three years, but had never really worried that I could be on the way out. Now it was my turn, he said.
According to the book, a few days later when Pompeo was in the Oval Office, Trump walked in, and saw him in person for the first time since the Xi call.
He said: You guys need to know Xi hates that guy. Mike, you're putting us all at risk the PPE, our trade deal. Stop, for God's sake!, notes the book.
"When I went home that night, I told Susan that my good run might be near its end. I would not praise Xi or the CCP for their death-dealing lies. Quiet for a time? Fine, Pompeo writes.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jan 30 2023 | 1:02 PM IST

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