China-U.S. Diplomatic back channels dry up, making communication harder



Juan MaI | Wendy Wu | Adam Behsudi | South China Morning Post| Politico

This story is part of an ongoing series on U.S.-China relations, jointly produced by the South China Morning Post and POLITICO, with reporting from Asia and the United States.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a breakdown in the conversations that have so often underpinned — and sometimes rescued — relations between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese foreign ministry officials are pursuing their Wolf Warrior brand of diplomacy, hurling insults over Twitter, a platform banned in their own country. For his part, President Donald Trump has taken to directly and repeatedly blaming China for the spread of the virus during his frequent press comments.

The flurry of behind-the-scenes meetings and messages — between government officials, business executives, former officials, and academics — has ground to a halt as a result of the rising hostility and travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, according to people usually involved in the discussions.

In recent days, the administration decided to take a number of actions against China that had been in the works for months, including pressuring the federal government retirement fund to halt investments in Chinese companies and further tightening export restrictions against telecommunications company Huawei.

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