In traditional Chinese culture, a man of integrity is not supposed to speak ill of other people behind their backs. Only a mean person does that.
In international relations, a senior diplomat is expected to demonstrate such integrity when talking about other countries.
The remarks Mike Pompeo, secretary of state of the United States, made about China at the Heritage Foundation Annual President's Meeting discredited him and his country. He said that China is a strategic competitor that uses coercion and corruption as its tools of statecraft.
When it comes to the nature of China-US relations, there is competition in some areas but there is also cooperation in a wide range of areas. China has long been one of the major trade partners of the US and vice versa. The definition of strategic competitors is far from enough to encompass the overall relations between the two countries.
And Pompeo's claim of coercion and corruption being used as tools of statecraft better befits the US. The US is the country that resorts to the coercion of economic sanctions most frequently when it has economic or other disputes with other countries.
The US also uses military means against other countries whenever it feels the target country is a thorn in its flesh. Which is also coercion.
The US is also the country that has most often used tariffs against its trade partners in recent years. Another form of coercion.
As the sole superpower, the US is accustomed to taking it for granted that it has the mandate to use coercion against any country that it is not pleased with.
The slogan "America first" makes it blatantly obvious that it pursues hegemony and that it believes might makes right.
In sharp contrast, mutual interest and win-win cooperation are policies China has always emphasized in international relations. It has never been the first to use economic sanctions and neither has it ever used military means against any country. Dialogue is the means China employs to settle disputes and differences with other countries. Common development is the goal China is pursuing in its cooperation with other countries, which finds expression in its Belt and Road Initiative.
Corruption was indeed a serious concern for China thanks to its economic boom and a lack of systematic countermeasures against the abuse of power in the early years of its economic reform and opening-up. But it has made a lot of efforts in this regard in recent years and has achieved a great deal. No country has ever attached such importance to the fight against corruption as China does now. Its zero tolerance for corruption leaves as little room as possible for abuse of power.
And there is corruption in every country; the US is no exception. The dishonest and fraudulent conduct of many of its key figures has seen the US administration lurch from one domestic crisis to another since taking office.
Pompeo should take a good look at his own country before bad-mouthing others.