The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, has privately received a message from President Joe Biden’s aides: Stop taunting Chinese President Xi Jinping on social media.
National Security Council officials have recently informed Emanuel’s staff that his jabs at Xi may undermine the administration’s efforts to smooth over rocky relations with China, three administration officials told NBC News. One such effort includes a possible meeting between Xi and President Biden this fall.
Formerly President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, Emanuel has, in recent weeks, taken several snarky swipes at China’s leader, including the use of the hashtag “#MysteryInBeijingBuilding.”
“President Xi’s cabinet lineup is now resembling Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. First, Foreign Minister Qin Gang goes missing, then the Rocket Force commanders go missing, and now Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks,” Emanuel wrote earlier this month. “Who’s going to win this unemployment race? China’s youth or Xi’s cabinet?”
President Xi’s cabinet lineup is now resembling Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. First, Foreign Minister Qin Gang goes missing, then the Rocket Force commanders go missing, and now Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks. Who’s going…
— ラーム・エマニュエル駐日米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) September 8, 2023
Days later, Emanuel posted, “Xi’s playbook is clear: shamelessly exploit human tragedies for political gain without any regard for the lives lost.”
“Xi’s team is using A.I. to spread false claims that U.S. ‘weather weapons’ caused the Maui wildfire, blaming the U.S. Army for bringing COVID to China, and spreading disinformation about Fukushima,” he stated. “Imagine a world where that energy was channeled into humanitarian aid and genuine concern for the global good. Like focusing on how to get the great Chinese youth back to full employment. Now that would be novel!!!”
Xi’s playbook is clear: shamelessly exploit human tragedies for political gain without any regard for the lives lost. Xi’s team is using A.I. to spread false claims that U.S. ‘weather weapons’ caused the Maui wildfire, blaming the U.S. Army for bringing COVID to China, and… pic.twitter.com/XhXmiJaA3v
— ラーム・エマニュエル駐日米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) September 12, 2023
According to an anonymous White House official, the ambassador’s tweets are “not in keeping with the message coming out of this building,” NBC News reports.
On Tuesday, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Biden had a “clear and consistent” message for China.
“We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict,” he stated. “I’ve said, ‘We are for de-risking, not decoupling with China.'”
“We will push back on aggression and intimidation and defend the rules of the road, from freedom of navigation to overflight to a level economic playing field that have helped safeguard security and prosperity for decades,” he continued. “But we also stand ready to work together with China on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., accused Emanuel of attention-seeking with his jabs at Xi.
“[A]t a time of partisan bickering and unattended domestic social issues, seeking limelight for oneself is good for nothing,” the spokesperson said. “Shifting attention brings no useful solution. It is better to act in a way that fits one’s official capacity.”
A spokesperson for Emanuel has pushed back, calling the NBC News report “absolutely not true.”
Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, praised Emanuel’s performance in an interview, according to NBC News.
“Ambassador Emanuel is serving with distinction as an uncommonly effective representative of the United States in Japan. Every day his inventiveness, passion, and relentlessness are on full display,” he said. “This guy is a superstar and when you put Rahm on the field you get the full Rahm.”
If Emanuel did receive a scolding from the White House, he has clearly chosen to ignore it.
On Thursday, the ambassador wrote on X, “As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’ 1st: Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen or heard from in 3 weeks. 2nd: He was a no-show for his trip to Vietnam. Now: He’s absent from his scheduled meeting with the Singaporean Chief of Navy because he was placed on house arrest???…Might be getting crowded in there. Good news is I heard he’s paid off his mortgage with the Country Garden real estate developers. #MysteryInBeijingBuilding”
As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” 1st: Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen or heard from in 3 weeks. 2nd: He was a no-show for his trip to Vietnam. Now: He’s absent from his scheduled meeting with the Singaporean Chief of Navy…
— ラーム・エマニュエル駐日米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) September 15, 2023
And on Friday, Emanuel wrote, “They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Chinese vessels fishing off Japan’s coast on September 15th, post China’s seafood embargo from the same waters. #Fukushima”
— ラーム・エマニュエル駐日米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) September 22, 2023
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