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Pompeo asks Asian nations to drop deals with blacklisted Chinese companies

Pompeo asks Asian nations to drop deals with blacklisted Chinese companies
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoUS intel: Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi killing Golden statue of Trump at CPAC ridiculed online Five things to watch at CPAC MORE urged leaders of nations in Southeast Asia to avoid doing business with Chinese firms suspected to be involved in Chinese military efforts to build artificial islands in the South China Sea, from which China has made territorial claims over waters critical to international shipping.

The Associated Press reported Pompeo made the remarks during a video conference with representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), urging them to "keep going, don’t just speak up but act" in order to hinder Chinese firms aiding the country in what the U.S. has characterized as unlawful territorial claims.

“Reconsider business dealing with the very state-owned companies that bully ASEAN coastal states in the South China Sea,” Pompeo said, according to the AP.

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“Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people. You should have confidence and the American will be here in friendship to help you,” he continued.

A statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus indicated that the secretary and other leaders "shared their common position that all disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully and in line with international law" but did not report that Pompeo had urged ministers to take action against Chinese firms.

Ortagus's statement added that the representatives urged China in the meeting to "halt its aggressive and destabilizing policies, including in the South China Sea, the Mekong sub-region, and Hong Kong."

Tensions between the U.S. and China have been high for months, with U.S.-China trade talks stalled and the Trump administration having hammered Chinese officials over other issues including espionage on U.S. soil, the treatment of protesters in Hong Kong and China's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now infected more than 6 million Americans.

The Trump campaign has sought to make China a central issue of the 2020 presidential race, with President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE frequently espousing a belief that China will "win" if Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE is elected.