Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is facing criticism for her repeated bows to her Chinese counterpart during a recent meeting, with some arguing that it showcased American weakness.
Video footage captured Yellen bowing her head and leaning forward multiple times while shaking hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who remained standing upright. The act of bowing by an American official has drawn scrutiny, with experts emphasizing that it is not part of accepted protocol.
Bradley Blakeman, a senior staffer for former President George W. Bush, remarked that an American official should never bow and expressed concern over the optics, stating, “It looks like she’s been summoned to the principal’s office, and that’s exactly the optics the Chinese love.”
During the economic summit between the Biden administration and China’s Xi Jinping, Yellen also referred to He as “Vice Premier Hu” in her opening statement. Critics argue that this mistake further exemplified a lack of preparedness and undermined the American position.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on Newsmax, commented on Yellen’s trip to China, referring to it as a “kowtowing” session and criticizing the Biden administration’s approach to China, particularly in regard to economic matters and climate change.
While Yellen emphasized the importance of cooperation on global challenges such as debt distress and climate change, experts argued that her overall demeanor appeared too submissive. Blakeman expressed his disappointment with the current administration, stating, “Time and time again, we embarrass ourselves and show weakness. And it just shows the lack of effective leverage we have.”
The incident has reignited debates about diplomatic protocol and the perception of American strength on the international stage.