Chinese Leader Xi Jinping Thinks US State, Local Officials Are ‘Weak Links’: Pompeo

Cathy He

Chinese leader Xi Jinping believes sub-national-level officials are a “weak link” that can be exploited to advance the regime’s interests in the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sept. 23.

In a speech at the Wisconsin state capitol, Pompeo urged U.S. politicians from state to municipal level to be alert to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “influence and espionage activities.”

“Know that when you are approached by a Chinese diplomat, it is likely not in the spirit of cooperation or friendship,” Pompeo said.

The secretary said the CCP has for decades “deployed friendly language while stealing from our innovators, building military strength, and co-opting our elites.”

For instance, he offered a “translation” of Xi’s remarks in August to a group of government economists and sociologists in Beijing: “We must actively develop cooperation with all countries, regions, and enterprises willing to cooperate with us, including states, localities, and enterprises in the United States.”

Pompeo said, “Xi knows that the federal government is pushing back again the CCP’s malign influence,” so he “thinks you’re the weak link.”

For Xi, “‘cooperation’ and ‘opening-up’ means the CCP wants to create arrangements that only benefit the CCP,” Pompeo added.

The ultimate goal of the regime’s malign influence activities is to “make Americans receptive to Beijing’s form of authoritarianism,” he warned.

CCP Pressure

The secretary of state said the CCP’s efforts to sway state and local officials have intensified over the years.
He cited the example of a Californian state senator who in 2017 sought to introduce a measure denouncing the regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice suppressed by the CCP since 1999.

“These are the folks who have suffered so tremendously under the CCP’s crackdowns on religious freedom,” Pompeo said.

The Chinese consulate in San Francisco wrote to the California legislature, saying the senator’s resolution might “deeply damage the cooperative relations between the State of California and China, and seriously hurt the feeling[s] of Chinese people and the vast Chinese community in California,” according to Pompeo.

As a result, “the California State Senate bowed to the CCP pressure campaign and shelved the proposed bill,” he said.

The secretary also referred to a Chinese official’s attempt earlier this year to get Wisconsin Senate President Roger Roth to support a resolution supporting the regime’s CCP Virus containment efforts. A consul of the Chinese consulate in Chicago, Wu Ting, emailed Roth twice to seek his backing. The attempts backfired, prompting an angry Roth to reject the proposal and instead introduce a resolution condemning the CCP’s coverup of the outbreak.

“The reality is that most every state legislature in the country has probably received a letter from the CCP like Senator Roth’s as part of a coordinated propaganda campaign,” Pompeo said.

He also raised another example involving Wu, when she forwarded a letter from her husband, the Consul General in Chicago, to Wisconsin congressman Mike Gallagher’s district director.

The letter was “full of CCP propaganda and disinformation about the pandemic,” Pompeo said.

“But what really caught my eye was her declaration, ‘We are firmly opposed to racial discrimination and xenophobia against the local Chinese community and stigmatization of China and the Chinese people over the virus.’”

He decried this as an attempt by the CCP to “drown out American cries for accountability with shouts of racism.”

“America’s righteous anger at the CCP over its handling of the coronavirus has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with citizens dead, children kept from school, and jobs lost,” the state secretary said.

Pompeo added that the regime wants “to foment the kind of strife we’ve seen in Minneapolis, and Portland, and Kenosha,” where race-related protests and violent rioting have erupted in the past months.

“That’s disgusting. We can’t let that happen.”

Cathy He is the politics editor at the Washington D.C. bureau. She was previously an editor for U.S.-China and a reporter covering U.S.-China relations.
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