Speaking with the incumbent office holder Antony Blinken in their dialogue on the evolution and importance of technology, diplomacy and national security at Stanford University on Oct 17, former United States secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said it's "the quickest way to lose friends, to say you either choose China or us. That doesn't work very well diplomatically".
Unfortunately, presenting countries with an "either China or us" choice is exactly what the US administration is doing right now.
This is made clear in a letter the US ambassador to Mexico wrote to the country's foreign minister in May, urging Mexico not to buy scanning equipment from China for its border control checkpoints.
A report published in The Washington Post on Saturday reveals that the US ambassador claimed that Chinese scanning equipment was "not reliable in regard to data integrity and transmission".
It is common practice for an ambassador to promote his/her country's products. However, Ken Salazar has creatively expanded his job list to include curbing sales of other countries' products as well. Presumably he is not the only one.
But that is not surprising considering the US has for years been smearing China's tech companies with such claims and has been targeting almost all Chinese major industries in the trade war it launched against China in 2018.
Behind that is the US' pursuit of trade hegemony, for which it is willing to sacrifice the interests of its partners. As part of its early trade attacks against China, it threatened European and Canadian interests as well as China's.
Salazar's letter, which was provided to the Post by a Mexican civil society organization and verified independently by the newspaper, tries to put a virtuous spin on the US' declaration that you are either with us or against us by saying that if Mexico does not let US companies earn the profit instead of Chinese enterprises, it will hinder the two countries' efforts "to interrupt traffic of chemical precursors, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamines and cash, as well as firearms and ordinance".
But showing that the letter was not intended to be taken as friendly advice, Salazar also threatened that cooperation between the United States and Mexico "could be put at risk" if Mexico proceeded with its purchase of Chinese equipment.
Nuctech, the Chinese company concerned, has not commented on the letter but in an updated post on its website, it has affirmed, "Nuctech is 100 percent committed to the safety and security of our customers and their data and any suggestions to the contrary is categorically false and designed to stifle emerging market competition."
The Joe Biden administration likes to talk about outcompeting China by investing in the US' strengths. Clearly, by trying to turn the screws on other countries so they do its bidding, it has recognized what many countries have known for a long time — dirty deeds are the US' true forte.