As per NBC News, the White House has reportedly requested Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, to refrain from engaging in provocative behavior directed at China through social media.
Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and chief of staff during President Barack Obama’s tenure, had taken a jibe at China’s President Xi Jinping in a social media post on September 7. In the post, he raised questions about the apparent disappearance of two of Xi’s cabinet officials, drawing a comparison to Agatha Christie’s novel “And Then There Were None.” Emanuel humorously wrote, “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 to win this unemployment race? China’s youth or Xi’s cabinet? #MysteryInBeijingBuilding.”
Unnamed sources informed NBC News that President Joe Biden’s team approached Emanuel, urging him to cease his “taunting” messages. An anonymous White House official expressed that these posts were not aligned with the administration’s intended message.
In a separate report by Reuters, it was noted that Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu’s public engagements in his “diplomatic and ceremonial role” have dwindled due to investigations initiated by President Xi into six military officials related to military equipment procurement. U.S. officials reportedly expressed concerns that Li’s absence from his public duties might signal an internal military crackdown led by Xi.
Emanuel’s social media messages present a stark contrast to the sentiments conveyed by President Biden during his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly. According to NBC, Biden emphasized the U.S.’s readiness to collaborate with China on issues where joint efforts are essential, aiming for responsible management of competition rather than its escalation into conflict.
A spokesperson for Rahm Emanuel vehemently denied the report of White House reprimands regarding his posts, asserting that Emanuel has been an exceptional representative of the United States in Japan. Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, praised Emanuel’s dedication and effectiveness in his role.
However, another administration official expressed that Emanuel’s social media messages related to China do not align with the administration’s objectives in the region, suggesting that they run counter to their efforts.