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The confrontation between the United States and China seems to be growing increasingly severe. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, effectively the No. 2 man in the U.S. government, has bitterly criticized President Xi Jinping by name and made it clear that Washington will alter its policy toward Beijing. In July, Pompeo said that the U.S. rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, a departure from its earlier position that territorial disputes in the region should be resolved by the countries involved.

Earlier this month, the U.S. dispatched the highest-ranking official to Taiwan since it severed diplomatic ties in 1979. President Donald Trump, formally nominated as the Republican candidate for the November election, promised in his re-election campaign pledges to win back U.S. jobs from China and get Beijing to pay the price for spreading COVID-19 worldwide. Naturally, the Chinese government spokesperson has reacted strongly. But China is diplomatically smart — President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang have both remained silent. Beijing knows that exchanges of abusive language between top leaders will only make future negotiations more difficult.

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