Pompeo urges countries to pressure China’s Communist Party to change
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday framed the future of U.S. relations with China as a battle between the free world and tyranny, calling for an international alliance to pressure Beijing to change its behavior.
The secretary, who gave his speech at the Richard Nixon Library in California, said that Washington must reject “blind engagement” with Beijing and empower the Chinese people against the ruling Communist Party.
“If the free world doesn’t change Communist China — [it] will surely change us,” Pompeo said in remarks that come amid an historic low in relations between Beijing and Washington.
He called the Trump administration’s strategy toward China “getting tough,” but said it had to be aided by like-minded nations.
“We, the free nations of the world, must induce change in the [Chinese Communist Party’s] behavior in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.”
Pompeo also called for empowering the Chinese people, characterizing them as people oppressed by the ruling party in Beijing.
“Communists almost always lie,” Pompeo said. “The biggest lie that they tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, oppressed and scared to speak out.”
The secretary’s remarks are the fourth in a series by administration officials laying out how the Trump administration views threats from China and part of a campaign of confrontation that has accelerated in recent weeks.
The Trump administration has sought to call out and punish what it views as aggressive and illegal Chinese behavior and Beijing has, at times, responded with retaliatory measures.
This confrontation has accelerated over the past few months in a series of actions ranging from heated rhetoric blaming Beijing for the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic to an uptick in sanctions against Chinese officials and businesses on charges of human rights abuses and espionage.
The State Department on Wednesday ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to shutter within three days, prompting Chinese officials to call the move an “unprecedented escalation” and vow retaliation.
Pompeo on Thursday called the consulate a “hub of spying and [Intellectual Property] theft.”
He also hurled direct attacks on Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling the leader “a true believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology” and “destined to tyrannize.”
While President Trump has said that he has no plans to talk with Xi, Pompeo on Thursday said that the U.S. will “keep talking” with Chinese officials but that the “conversations are different these days.”
Pompeo said moving forward the U.S. will deal with China under the motto “distrust and verify.”
“We can no longer ignore the fundamental political and ideological differences between our countries, just as the CCP has never ignored them,” he said.
The secretary’s speech is almost certain to draw a response from officials in Beijing, who have earlier attacked Pompeo as a “brazen liar”, while state-backed media has called him the “common enemy of mankind.”
Updated at 5:56 p.m.