U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made an unusual gesture Saturday when she bowed to a Chinese official during her visit in Beijing.
Footage shows Yellen approaching Vice Premier He Lifeng — her Chinese counterpart — and bowing multiple times while enthusiastically shaking his hand.
Former White House staffer Bradley Blakeman, who served during President George W. Bush’s administration, told the New York Post that the gesture was unseemly.
“Never, ever, ever…an American official does not bow. It looks like she’s been summoned to the principal’s office, and that’s exactly the optics the Chinese love,” Blakeman said.
Some Twitter users shared the same sentiment, calling the bow embarrassing for the United States.
“She did not realize bowing as an American official was a breach of protocol,” author Max Murray wrote on Twitter. “They don’t reciprocate. He even backs away to give her more space to kowtow.”
“Yellen’s flubs in China are not going to help the US stock market come Monday morning. Come home Janet!” “Taxifornia” author James V. Lacy wrote on Twitter.
During their meeting, He implied that the U.S. was an irrational actor towards China.
“We wish the US side would take a rational and practical attitude, meet with the Chinese side half-way, make joint efforts with China in maintaining the consensus reached between the two state leaders in their meeting in Bali, and put the positive remarks into actions, so as to stabilize and improve the China-US relations,” He said.
Yellen gently pushed back, defending the United States’ actions to defend national security.
“The United States will take targeted actions to protect our national security,” Yellen said. “While we may disagree on these actions, we should not allow that disagreement to lead to misunderstandings, particularly those stemming from the lack of communication, which can unnecessarily worsen our bilateral economic and financial relationship.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen greets Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing earlier today pic.twitter.com/iYcA7Jmuz6
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 8, 2023