Telling the Richard Nixon Presidential Library that “the old paradigm of blind engagement with China has failed,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced a new approach to the Communist Party of China (CCP): “Beware but check.
In stern and sobering remarks, Pompeo warned Americans that “if we bend the knee now, our children’s children could be at the mercy of the CCP, whose actions are the main challenge for the free world.”
Pompeo’s speech came a day after the FBI revealed that the CCP implemented a “program” to secretly and illegally plant military researchers at several US universities to steal sensitive materials. Earlier in the week, the State Department announced that the Chinese Consulate in Houston would be closed, with Pompeo claiming the complex was “a center of espionage and theft of intellectual property.” China has vowed retaliation.
Against this tense backdrop, Pompeo promised action he distinguished from the Cold War-era “containment” which aimed to stop the spread of communism and maintain the isolation of the Soviet Union.
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“It is true that unlike the Soviet Union, China is deeply integrated into the world economy,” he said. “But Beijing depends more on us than we are on them. ”
Hours after the FBI alleged a coordinated plan by China to “send military scientists to the United States under false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their real employment,” Pompeo pointed out that the system of immigration was subject to abuse.
“We have opened our arms to Chinese citizens, only to see the CCP exploit our free and open society,” Pompeo continued, perhaps in his most pointed remarks to the Chinese government. “Secretary General Xi Jinping strongly believes in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology.”
Throughout his speech, which also warned of pervasive national security threats from big Chinese tech companies, Pompeo strove to distinguish the CCP from the Chinese people.
“Communists always lie, but the biggest lie is that the Chinese Communist Party speaks for the 1.4 billion people who are being watched, oppressed and afraid to speak out,” Pompeo noted. “Quite the contrary. The CCP fears the honest opinions of the Chinese people more than any foreign enemy. And except to lose their own grip on power, they have no reason to do so. ”
Pompeo specially honored Tiananmen Square survivor Wang Dan, as well as the man identified as the “father of the Chinese democratic movement, Wei Jingsheng”, who “spent decades in Chinese labor camps for his advocacy.”
The only way to truly change Communist China, Pompeo continued, “is to act on what its leaders do, not what they say. President Reagan dealt with the Soviets on the basis of “trust but verify”. When it comes to the CCP, I say, ‘Beware and check.’ ”
Previous actions by the Trump administration against Chinese officials, students and researchers have included travel bans, registration requirements and other measures designed to reduce the country’s footprint in the United States. The administration also announced its outright rejection of virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.
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These actions came as Trump sought to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, where cases have skyrocketed. Trump himself has said more shutdowns could happen if China doesn’t change its behavior. “It’s always possible,” he told White House reporters.
Pompeo also touched on this theme. “Just think how much better the world would have been if doctors in Wuhan had been allowed to sound the alarm on the outbreak of a new coronavirus,” he said.
The State Department announced that it had ordered the consulate to close within 72 hours after it alleged that Chinese agents attempted to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system across the United States. State and Anderson MD Cancer Center at the University of Texas at Houston.
There were indications that consulate staff were preparing to leave: papers were burned on the consulate grounds on Tuesday evening – a common practice when a diplomatic post is closed on short notice.
Cai Wei, the Chinese consul general, told KTRK-TV in Houston that the shutdown order was “completely wrong” and “very damaging” to US-China relations.
Asked about the espionage and data theft charges, Cai said, “You have to give evidence, say something from the facts. … Knowing the Americans, you have the rule of law, you are not guilty until you are convicted. ”
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the shutdown was “to protect American intellectual property and American private information.”
Nicholas Kalman and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.