(WASHINGTON TIMES) The Trump administration, with a simple change in rhetoric, has signaled a subtle shift in its approach to China in recent weeks — and in the process has deepened a rift with the Communist Party leadership in Beijing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a major foreign policy speech late last month in which he referred to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “general secretary” rather than “president.” The seemingly minor tweak, national security sources and analysts say, carries a much deeper meaning and suggests China hawks in the administration are employing unprecedented bluntness in calling out the lack of democracy and free elections in China.
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The policy does not appear to have spread throughout the administration. President Trump referred to “President Xi” when speaking to reporters Tuesday in the Oval Office about the prospects of a trade deal. But sources see growing momentum in Washington to describe the Chinese leader as someone not bound by the will of his people or other democratic checks and balances.