U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
FPI / December 23, 2019
The Chinese people are yearning for freedom from the Chinese Communist Party which controls all aspects of their lives, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“The Chinese Communist Party, [which] controls China, is an authoritarian regime and a combination of Marxist-Leninist ideology and Han Chinese nationalism,” Pompeo said in an interview with Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz which was published on Dec. 19.
The ruling party “denies basic freedoms to its people — whether it’s the egregious activities that take place in Xinjiang, or the Chinese Communist Party’s failure and rejection to live up to their commitments in Hong Kong.”
Recent news reports have helped publicize the Chinese crackdown on ethnic Uyghurs in western Xinjiang province, where up to 2 million Muslims are detained in re-education camps, Pompeo said.
“I think that’s important that people understand the truth about what’s taking place there,” he said.
Pompeo’s recent comments on China and the Communist Party have triggered a harsh reaction from Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday accused the United States of “slander” against the Chinese system, an indirect reference to Pompeo’s criticism.
The Chinese Communist Party, Pompeo said, uses disinformation to “deny the reality of these very things that take place.”
In an October speech, Pompeo took aim at what he called the “permanent class of China lobbyists in the United States” who “sell access to Chinese leaders and connect business partners.” China’s use of former American officials as lobbyists is part of the major information operations and influence activities by Beijing, he said.
“There are significant Chinese government resources being applied to shape the narratives of what’s taking place and what the relationship between the United States and China ought to be,” Pompeo said.
The First Amendment protects the rights of Americans to petition the government but disinformation can skew debates over issues and policies, Pompeo said.
“These debates have to take place against the background of the facts and not be dominated by some faction that has an interest in doing something that may well benefit them but cumulatively doesn’t benefit the United States of America,” Pompeo said. “That’s the risk that arises from the activity that I referenced there.”
To maintain strict control over its residents, China has instituted a draconian system of social credit “to change the behavior of the Chinese people,” Pompeo said.
“It’s important that the United States recognize the greatness of the people of China and their capacity for desiring freedom and wanting nothing more than to live their lives, and the Chinese Communist Party that has a very different mission set,” he said.
The Trump administration, Pompeo said, has “made real progress this year in informing the world of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. We were asleep at the switch for a couple of decades as this threat continued to grow, and I think President Trump set the conditions where we could go speak around the world and talk to our colleagues around the world to demonstrate to them that — while there’s enormous opportunity to sell goods in China and to create good things for the Chinese people — that the Chinese Communist Party presents real risks, and to begin to think materially, concretely, substantively about how to respond to it.”
The negative influence of the Communist Party is also harming the U.S., Pompeo told Gertz. This was evidenced in China’s limiting broadcasts of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets after a team official tweeted support for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
“So a general manager of an NBA basketball team sends out a single tweet that could not possibly have made it through the Chinese information firewall, at least at any scale, and this is global conflict?” the secretary of state said. “No, the Chinese people just want to watch the NBA.”
Last week, China pulled broadcasts of Premier League soccer player Mesut Ozil, a German Muslim of Turkish origin, after he tweeted criticism of Chinese repression of Muslims in western China.
“We suffer lots of political noise and we thrive on this in America, we are very tolerant, we have free speech rights, where the to and fro matters and that freedom is important,” Pompeo said.
“This isn’t about what they’re doing to some soccer player or some person in America,” he added. “This is to their own people. I think it’s important that American foreign policy recognize this and attempt to respond to it in a way that will do the right thing for the United States.”
Pompeo said he does not support the idea of “decoupling” economically from China, an idea advocated by some critics of China’s efforts to achieve global supremacy by using its economic and other power to diminish its enemies, in particular the United States.
“Our policy doesn’t advocate for decoupling. Our policy simply demands that Chinese trade be engaged in a way that’s fair, reciprocal and transparent,” Pompeo said.
“The decoupling will only occur if China decides not to engage in trade in that way. That will be their country’s decision.”
Trump’s objective in applying tariffs and tough trade measures toward China has been to change Beijing’s behavior and induce fairer practices, Pompeo said.
Last week, Washington and Beijing announced a “Phase One” deal that puts off a new round of tariffs in exchange for greater purchases of U.S. goods and some policy changes by China.
The United States wants to see lower tariffs, lower nontariff barriers, increased trade and greater transparency as the talks progress, Pompeo said.
“If we get those things, the decoupling won’t take place. In the end, the Chinese Communist Party will get a vote in this, and they’ve got to decide if they want to compete or if they want to be protectionist.”
Free Press International