Trump Administration’s Tough Stance on China Will Carry On: Pompeo

November 11, 2020 Updated: November 26, 2020

The Trump administration, whether reelected or not, will continue to be tough on Beijing, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Nov. 10.

Pompeo said the Trump administration is “not finished yet” when it comes to the “China challenge,” as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to be “the world’s number-one threat to freedom,” in a speech given at the Ronald Reagan Institute.

“The regime in Beijing … is authoritarian; it is brutish and is antithetical to human dignity and freedom,” Pompeo said, adding that the CCP was a “Marxist-Leninist monster.”

He highlighted the administration’s efforts to persuade Beijing to practice “accountability, transparency, [and] reciprocity,” comparing it to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s demands from the Soviet Union.

“[N]o more illegal claims in the South China Sea, no more coercion and co-optation of American businesses, no more consulates used as dens of spies, no more stealing of intellectual property, and no more ignoring fundamental human rights violations. And the party’s atrocities in Xinjiang, Tibet, and elsewhere will not be tolerated,” Pompeo said.

Beijing has continued to assert claims over most of the waterway, as well as islands and reefs that lie in the region, refusing to recognize a United Nations ruling at the Hague in 2016 that concluded the Chinese claims were invalid. In July, the United States formally rejected Beijing’s South China Sea claims, calling them “completely unlawful.”

While Pompeo did not name a specific Chinese consulate during his speech, the State Department ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close in July, citing the outpost’s efforts to steal American intellectual property. Beijing retaliated by ordering the shutdown of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province.

Many countries are now rallying around the United States to confront China, he added. “The fight is between authoritarianism, barbarism on one side and freedom on the other,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo pointed to how nearly 50 nations have signed up to the U.S.-led initiative, Clean Network—a program that aims to make communications networks, cloud-based systems, and mobile apps free from Chinese influence, such as by excluding Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G networks.

In a separate briefing on Monday, Pompeo said 27 of 30 NATO allies, 31 of the 37-membered Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and 11 of the 12-membered Three Seas nations, were participants in the U.S. program.

Brazil is the latest country to join the Clean Network. According to Reuters, the Brazilian government made the decision to join the program on Nov. 11, during a visit by U.S. undersecretary of state Keith Krach.

Pompeo also expressed hope for change within China. Once the great internet firewall is taken down and people have free access to information, he believed Chinese people would make “a different set of decisions” on China’s future than the CCP’s.

“In the end, the people of China will ultimately be determinative, just as the people of the Soviet Union were ultimately determinative of the course of history inside of that country,” he said.

Pompeo is one of the most vocal critics of the CCP within the Trump administration, and has often been ridiculed and criticized by China’s state-run media as a result. While the U.S. presidential race has yet to be finalized, China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times welcomed the idea of a U.S. administration without Pompeo.

On Nov. 9, it published an English-language opinion article titled, “Pompeo’s era of train wreck diplomacy nears volatile end,” in which it stated Pompeo’s successor will“ need to make up for the damage done to China-US relations.”

In another article published on Nov. 10, Global Times, quoting a Chinese researcher, said: “No matter who will become next US secretary of state, he/she will definitely do better than Mike Pompeo. No one can be worse than Pompeo.” 

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