White House Report Denounces Beijing's 'Malign Behavior' Amid Heightened Tensions

White House Report Denounces Beijing's 'Malign Behavior' Amid Heightened Tensions
China's People's Liberation Army soldiers march next to the entrance to the Forbidden City during the opening ceremony a political meeting in Beijing on May 21, 2020. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
Cathy He

The White House decried the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) predatory economic practices, aggressive military moves, and human rights abuses in a new report to Congress. The assessment comes as the Trump administration escalates criticism of China's pandemic response.

The 16-page report (pdf), submitted May 19 to Congress as required under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, spelled out a range of challenges posed by Beijing, including its unfair trade practices, persecution of religious groups and dissidents, and "provocative and coercive" military activities in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

"The United States now acknowledges and accepts the relationship with the PRC [People's Republic of China] as the CCP has always framed it internally: one of great power competition," the report stated.

“Even as we compete with the PRC, we welcome cooperation where our interests align."

The report, which summarizes the administration's policy toward the Chinese regime in the past few years, was released as the Trump administration clamped down on security threats posed by Chinese tech companies, and escalated demands for Beijing to be transparent about the origins of the CCP virus outbreak.

"The media’s focus on the current pandemic risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that’s presented by the Chinese Communist Party,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said May 20 at a press conference before the public release of the report.

“China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime, since 1949. For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us—through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the World Trade Organization as a developing nation. That didn’t happen,” he said.

“We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact.”

Trump on May 20 called out the regime's "massive disinformation campaign" relating to the pandemic, saying on Twitter that it was intended to help Democratic candidate Joe Biden win this year's presidential election.

In another set of tweets, Trump called the regime's disinformation and propaganda campaign against the United States and Europe a "disgrace."

"It all comes from the top," Trump wrote. "They could have easily stopped the plague, but they didn’t!"

Pompeo said the Chinese regime's response to the outbreak has "accelerated our more realistic understanding of communist China." He spotlighted Beijing destroying virus samples during the early stages of the outbreak, its refusal to allow investigators to access its facilities, and its threats to impose tariffs on Australia after it called for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

The report stated that the Chinese regime has fallen short of its commitments in a range of areas, from trade to intellectual property to environmental protection. For instance, Beijing promised during the Obama administration to stop state-directed cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial gain, and repeated the pledge in 2017 and 2018, the report said. However, in 2018, the United States and a dozen other countries reported massive cyber attacks aimed at stealing business information by hackers affiliated with China's top intelligence agency.

The report stated that the administration sees "no value" in engaging with the regime for "symbolism and pageantry."

"We instead demand tangible results and constructive outcomes," it stated. "When quiet diplomacy proves futile, the United States will increase public pressure on the PRC government and take action to protect United States interests."

The report concluded, “We continue to engage with PRC leaders in a respectful yet clear-eyed manner, challenging Beijing to uphold its commitments.”

Cathy He is an editor focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined The Epoch Times in February 2018. Contact Cathy at cathy.he@epochtimes.com.