US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed China for the umpteenth time for being “a bad actor”, by which he didn’t mean the Hollywood variety. China is no angel. But that pernicious title more appropriately belongs to the United States. This conclusion can be justified by looking at not what officials like Pompeo say but what they do in terms of international law, treaties and norms. Washington is expected to pull out of the 35-nation, 20-year-old Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights at short notice over member countries. Last year, it withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as well as the Arms Trade Treaty, set by the United Nations. The latter regulates the transfers of conventional arms and has long been the target of the right-wing National Rifle Association, the main barrier to proper gun control legislation within the US. Together, they amount to the greatest assault on global arms control in recent years. The US, of course, unilaterally broke off the Iran nuclear deal. US President Donald Trump and Pompeo have been criticised for making Washington an unreliable international partner. But they are merely continuing a long US tradition. According to Human Rights Watch, these are commonly accepted international human rights treaties that the US has ignored: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance; Mine Ban Treaty; Convention on Cluster Munitions; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol; and the Convention against Torture. Of the 18 human rights agreements under the UN, America has only ratified five. Even China has done eight. Trade war cost US firms US$1.7 trillion in market value, New York Fed says But, in light of the latest development, Washington’s rejection of the International Criminal Court is especially relevant. China, too, has not signed on to the ICC but continues to be officially engaged with it. The Trump White House has just imposed sanctions on ICC officials for investigating whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Pompeo has called the ICC a “kangaroo” court. Incredibly, he said the latest sanctions could also apply to the family members of ICC officials. Don Corleone in the Godfather would have been proud. Intriguingly, Washington thinks it can sanction China for allegedly breaching a bilateral treaty, the Joint Declaration with Britain over Hong Kong, to which it is not even a party. Guess if you can sanction the ICC, you can sanction anyone!