U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on June 25 that the United States has accepted the proposal made by EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell to establish a U.S.-EU Dialogue on China with a goal to address the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Pompeo hopes that this initiative to preserve “our free societies, our prosperity, and our future” will be kicked off in a few weeks and will continue for an extended period of time.
Confronting the threats posed by the CCP does not mean that countries “have to choose business over confronting the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said, but “the ruleset on which that trade engages has to be reciprocal” and fair.
Both the United States and the EU have a big trade relationship with China. “It’s a market of a billion-plus people,” said Pompeo.
On the other hand “China needs markets too” and it also “needs access to Western knowledge, Western knowhow,” he said. However, both communities on both sides of the Atlantic “no longer allow the Chinese Communist Party to dictate the rules and terms and conditions of those relationships when they’re not fair and equitable to our peoples.”
An example of the CCP unfair practices is intellectual property theft that takes place in Germany, across Europe, and in the United States, said Pompeo.
“The hardworking German people created that intellectual property, worked hard for that intellectual property, built that, protected it in their system, and the Chinese came and stole it.”
The prosperity of the transatlantic world owes much to the protection of intellectual property, Pompeo added.
China has access to the Western capital market in ways Western countries cannot access Chinese capital markets, Pompeo said.
“For our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing field,” President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said after the EU-China summit earlier in June.
“Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and a necessity. But, … we have to recognize that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values,” President of the European Council, Charles Michel said after the summit.
In 2019, China became the third U.S. trading partner falling from its top position among the U.S. trading partners, which it held several years prior, according to Forbes.
U.S. exports to China in 2019 were $106 billion while imports from China were $452 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2019, China was the third-largest EU partner for goods export (at $222 billion) and the largest EU partner for goods import (at $407 billion), according to the European Commission’s data.
Threats Posed by the CCP
Pompeo described several threats posed by the Chinese communist regime that can challenge free societies.
One of them is breaking international commitments by the Chinese Communist Party including those to the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and the people of Hong Kong.
The Chinese regime plans to impose the new “national security law” for Hong Kong thus undermining the “one country, two systems” arrangement that separates Hong Kong’s political, legal, and financial infrastructure from mainland China.
If imposed, the law will violate “China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Predatory economic practices such as coercing nations to use 5G services offered by Chinese company Huawei, “an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state,” threatens people’s freedoms and privacy rights.
Violations of European sovereignty by the CCP, “including its browbeating of companies like HSBC,” is also considered a threat, Pompeo said.
HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp.), a London based multinational corporation operating in Hong Kong has recently cast its support for Beijing’s “national security law” imposed on Hong Kong.
That move has drawn criticism from the U.S. and UK governments for supporting the crushing of political dissent in Hong Kong and from the CCP for its reluctant and delayed support of the security law as well as the bank’s previous efforts in cooperating with the United States.
Pompeo also brought up shocking human rights abuses taking place in China. According to a State Department report the Chinese regime imprisons religious minorities in internment camps, kills prisoners of conscience to harvest their organs for transplant surgery, persecutes lawyers for defending “pro-democracy dissidents, house-church activists, Falun Gong adherents, or government critics.” Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to especially severe persecution at the hands of the Chinese regime.
China also engages in provocative military actions such as “aggression in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontations in India, an opaque nuclear program, and threats against peaceful neighbors,” Pompeo said.
Can the EU Stand Up to the CCP?
The EU and the United States need to first agree on the shared understanding of the core facts that constitute this threat, and then both the EU and the United States “can begin to take action,” Pompeo said.
He predicts that there may be different views on this issue, especially among business communities. They may not want to confront the CCP because they make money in China and will accept doing business with it based on conditions set by the CCP.
“I don’t accept that argument. There is no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo believes that Europeans have every incentive to demand from the CCP reciprocity and fair treatment. They should not bow to the CCP because China is a billion-people market, he explained. The United States told the CCP to stop stealing their intellectual property.
The G7 group has already condemned China’s national security law targeting Hong Kong. The UK has strongly opposed this attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, consisting of lawmakers from both sides of the Atlantic, has been established with a goal to reform the ways democratic countries approach China.
The Czech Republic ”has led the charge in encouraging countries” to allow only trusted 5G service providers and suppliers in their networks, Pompeo said.
“The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision. China is making that choice between freedom and democracy,” Pompeo said.