Pompeo’s remarks at the Nixon Library on Thursday, titled “Communist China and the Future of the Free World,” cast criticism of Beijing and its relations with the United States, nearly 50 years after President Richard Nixon was became the first US president to visit China.
“We must admit our truth which should guide us in the years and decades to come, that if we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century that Xi Jinping dreams of, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China just won don’t, ”he said. “We must not continue it and we must not come back to it”.
He appeared to present the US-Chinese competition as a modern cold war, claiming that “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time and America is uniquely positioned to lead it.”
Pompeo delivered the speech on the heels of a US order to shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston – “because it was a hub for espionage and theft of intellectual property,” in his own words. The order – the latest in a series of escalations between Washington and Beijing – demands that the Chinese close the property by Friday.
However, in an interview with Politico on Thursday, Consul General Cai Wei suggested that the diplomatic outpost could challenge that order.
“Today we are still operating normally, so we will see what happens tomorrow,” he told the outlet, without giving further details.
Chinese officials have urged the United States to reverse its decision and have threatened retaliation.
State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said they “had to make the decision to close this consulate because of this massive and massive theft of our research and intellectual property.”
“We have discovered spy networks,” she said Thursday in an interview with “Quest Means Business”.
“But most importantly, I think what has been very disturbing to us is the theft of research from our universities, from our hospitals, the theft of intellectual property, the theft of technology companies. So the FBI and the Department of Justice began to expose the case and show the facts again, ”she said.
Seven-page document prepared by US law enforcement officials and shared among US government agencies details cases of covert People’s Liberation Army activity in the United States, including details related to the consulate from Houston in particular, according to the document reviewed by CNN.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin denied claims that the consulate was “the epicenter” of illicit activity.
Pompeo’s speech made only a small mention of the closing of the consulate. The senior US diplomat instead focused on the broader tensions between the two countries, describing China as an insidious threat that has profited from relations with democratic nations.
“As President Trump has said very clearly, we need a strategy that protects the US economy and even our way of life. The free world must triumph over this new tyranny, ”he said.
“The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resuscitated China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that nourished it,” Pompeo continued. “We have opened our arms to Chinese citizens, only to see the Chinese Communist Party exploit our free and open society. “
While acknowledging the differences between China and the Soviet Union, Pompeo said that China was repeating some of the same mistakes the Soviet Union had made, such as alienating allies and rejecting property rights and l Rule of law. He called President Xi Jinping “a true supporter of a bankrupt totalitarian ideology”.
Pompeo called on the United States and its allies to work to “change the behavior of China.”
His speech was the fourth and culminating in a series of administration remarks against China. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Bill Barr made similar remarks about the threat from Beijing.
CNN’s Nicole Gaouette and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.