Janet Yellen’s Controversial Bow to Chinese Official

by Ethan Roberts
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Faces Backlash for Bowing to Chinese Official in Beijing

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently stirred controversy during her visit to Beijing by bowing to Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng. While some argue it was a respectful gesture, critics argue it undermined American dignity and played into China’s hands. As the incident continues to make waves, many wonder how it will impact the already tense relations between the two economic superpowers.

Yellen’s Controversial Gesture

Footage from the encounter shows Yellen enthusiastically shaking hands with Vice Premier He Lifeng while bowing multiple times. The unusual gesture has drawn intense scrutiny, with critics arguing that it is unbecoming for an American official. Former White House staffer Bradley Blakeman claimed that the bowing made Yellen appear as if she had been summoned to the principal’s office, giving the Chinese the optics they relish.

Twitter Reacts

The controversial bowing incident quickly gained traction on Twitter, with users expressing embarrassment and concern regarding the optics of the gesture. Author Max Murray accused Yellen of breaching protocol, stating that China does not reciprocate such gestures and that He Lifeng even stepped back to provide Yellen with more space to kowtow. “Taxifornia” author James V. Lacy chimed in, suggesting that the incident might adversely impact the U.S. stock market on Monday.

He Lifeng Impugns U.S. Actions

During the meeting, Vice Premier He Lifeng insinuated that the United States had been acting irrationally towards China. He called for a rational and practical approach from the United States, emphasizing the need to meet China halfway and to maintain the consensus reached in previous meetings between the two nations. He’s remarks further highlight the strain on bilateral relations.

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Yellen Defends U.S. Actions

Yellen, in response to He Lifeng’s comments, defended the United States’ actions to protect national security. While acknowledging disagreements, she stressed the importance of clear communication to avoid misunderstandings that could harm the bilateral economic and financial relationship. Yellen stated that the United States would take targeted actions necessary to safeguard national security, a position that she believed should not undermine the potential for cooperation between the two countries.

Is U.S.-China Rivalry Intensifying?

The incident involving Yellen’s bowing has reignited concerns about the state of U.S.-China relations. Current tensions between the two nations have been fueled by issues ranging from trade disputes and human rights concerns to technological competition and geopolitical interests. The controversy surrounding Yellen’s gesture further underscores the challenge of striking a delicate balance between asserting U.S. interests and maintaining diplomatic decorum.


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s bowing to Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng during her visit to Beijing has sparked widespread debate and criticism. While some argue it is a sign of respect and willingness to engage, others view it as compromising American dignity and potentially strengthening China’s position. As tense relations between the United States and China continue, incidents like these only add fuel to the fire. The long-term impact of this controversy remains uncertain, as both countries navigate their complex relationship on the global stage.

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