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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to deny that a photo he recently posted of his dog was meant to troll China’s President Xi Jinping.
Pompeo spoke about the photo of his puppy Mercer and the speculation it triggered during an interview with Iowa conservative radio host Simon Conway on Wednesday. The photo posted on Pompeo’s personal Twitter account showed the pup along with what he captioned as “all of her favorite toys,” including a Winnie the Pooh chew toy.
Mercer and all of her favorite toys! 🐶 pic.twitter.com/bGal0ui6E2
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) July 15, 2020
A BBC article in response to the tweet asked if the US “is toying with China” as Winnie the Pooh is a ‘common derogatory nickname for Chinese President Xi Jinping.”
“It’s entirely possible that the post could be an innocent photograph of Mr. Pompeo’s dog and her toys, but there are other potential references worth noting in this picture,” the BBC noted.
“Mr. Pompeo may have picked up on ‘dog’ as a reference to either the U.S. or himself. The word ‘dog’ in Chinese is often used to reference people or countries that are regarded as aggressive, feral, or wild,” the article claimed. “The word ‘dog’ has previously been used by demonstrators in Hong Kong as a term of abuse for police officers. In mainland [communist] China, the U.S. and Mike Pompeo have both consistently been called ‘dogs.’”
Pompeo was asked about the photo and any underlying connotations during his talk with Conway on Wednesday.
“Is this Winnie the Pooh-gate, Mr. Secretary?” Conway questioned the secretary of state.
“Mercer has about 30 toys that Mercer enjoys, all of them roughly, apparently, equally depending on which one our other dog wants most, as Mercer’s first choice is the one the other dog has,” Pompeo replied.
“So no, I imagine there were a series of stuffed animals, and they were equally – equally distributed for Mercer’s benefit,” he added.
Winnie the Pooh is essentially off limits in China, where the beloved children’s book character is blocked on social media. In addition, the Disney film “Christopher Robin” was banned from being released in China back in 2018. The sensitivity to the AA Milne storybook bear likely stemmed from a 2013 comparison on social media between President Xi and former President Obama.
— Yuan Yang (@YuanfenYang) July 16, 2017
Tensions between the United States and China have grown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and how it was handled by the Communist government after originating in the city of Wuhan. Pompeo went on in his interview Wednesday to call out China’s government, saying that Americans “have been fed a bill of goods that if we simply engage with China, that they would leave us alone and behave in a way that was consistent with how other large nations behaved.”
“That hasn’t happened,” he asserted.
“The risk is increasing, and to our democratic allies in the region, the risk to them is increasing as well. And so President Trump has simply said we’re going to respond by the simple demand that they engage in trading relationships that are fair and reciprocal,” he added.
On Tuesday, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomous Act and announced that, for now, he is “not interested in talking to China about another deal.”
“I’m very confident that the world will look at China differently and engage with them on fundamentally different terms than they did before this catastrophic disaster,” Pompeo told The Hill Wednesday.
A Chinese government official complained that Trump is “bullying” Beijing, telling U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad that “any bullying and unfairness imposed on China by the U.S. will meet resolute counterattack from China.”
Chinese diplomat warns of ‘counterattack’ against Trump’s ‘bullying’ and support for Hong Kong https://t.co/0FcOXYSh9E
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 16, 2020
Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang warned that any “U.S. attempt to obstruct China’s development is doomed to failure.”
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