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Video published by Reuters shows Yellen smiling and while giving a slight bow three times as she shook hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who did not bow during the seconds-long clip.
“Never, ever, ever,” Bradley Blakeman, a top White House aide to President George W. Bush, told The New York Post in response to the exchange. “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.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen greets Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing earlier today pic.twitter.com/iYcA7Jmuz6
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 8, 2023
The publication also reported Jerome Cohen, an emeritus professor at New York University and expert in Chinese law and government, said, “Bowing is not part of the accepted protocol.”
While some argued the display was not a big deal, others reacted with disgust on social media as the video of Yellen bowing was shared by various accounts, including one for the Republican National Committee.
“I can’t stand this woman,” tweeted defense attorney Marina Melvin. “BTW she’s bowing to him because she genuinely wants to. It’s natural for her. She’s an obsequious commie lover.”
Grabien founder Tom Elliott said, “Her bowing is an embarrassment to every non-communist American.”
“How many times does she think she has to bow?” asked New York Post columnist Miranda Devine, who added a “grimacing face” emoji.
How many times does she think she has to bow? 😬 https://t.co/NAvHnLRjCf
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) July 9, 2023
Yellen had an introductory meeting with He to “build on” U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “guidance to deepen engagement between key senior officials on macroeconomic issues,” said a readout from the Treasury Department.
“The meeting was candid, constructive, and comprehensive,” the readout added. “While raising issues of concern, Secretary Yellen discussed the Administration’s approach to seek healthy economic competition with China, with a level playing field for American workers and businesses. They also exchanged views on global and domestic macroeconomic outlooks.”
The readout continued, “Secretary Yellen also conveyed that even when the United States and China have disagreements, it is vital that the two countries find ways to work together on issues of shared – and global – concern, including debt distress in low-income and emerging economies and climate finance.”