This is the second in a two-part series on U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California on July 23. Part 1 can be accessed here.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has urged free nations of the world and the Chinese people to join America in dealing with the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Receive selected content straight into your inbox.
Speaking at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California on July 23, Pompeo said his remarks were the fourth in a series with others given by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Chris Wray, and U.S. Attorney General Barr.
He said his goal was to summarize what the China threat means for the U.S. economy, for American liberty, and for the future of free democracies around the world.
Pompeo talks about economic espionage and theft
“We know too that not all Chinese students and employees are just normal students and workers that are coming here to make a little bit of money and to garner themselves some knowledge. Too many of them come here to steal our intellectual property and to take this back to their country,” he said adding that law enforcement agencies are working hard on tackling such cases.
He then touched on the defense challenges that communist China poses and how the U.S. is meeting them.
“We know that the People’s Liberation Army is not a normal army, too. Its purpose is to uphold the absolute rule of the Chinese Communist Party elites and expand a Chinese empire, not to protect the Chinese people. And so, our Department of Defense has ramped up its efforts, freedom of navigation operations out and throughout the East and South China Seas, and in the Taiwan Strait as well. And we’ve created a Space Force to help deter China from aggression on that final frontier,” he said.
This, Pompeo said, has required a whole new approach and a new set of policies at the U.S. State Department when dealing with Beijing that pushes “President Trump’s goals for fairness and reciprocity, to rewrite the imbalances that have grown over decades.”
Pompeo then mentioned the July 21 closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston because it was a hub of spying and intellectual property theft. He next touched on the situation in the South China Sea, which Beijing unlawfully claims most of.
“We reversed, two weeks ago, eight years of cheek-turning with respect to international law in the South China Sea,” Pompeo said.
“We’ve called on China to conform its nuclear capabilities to the strategic realities of our time. And the State Department — at every level, all across the world — has engaged with our Chinese counterparts simply to demand fairness and reciprocity.”
But in meeting the challenges ahead, Pompeo spoke of the importance of Chinese people opposing the CCP.
Human rights and democracy
“But our approach can’t just be about getting tough. That’s unlikely to achieve the outcome that we desire. We must also engage and empower the Chinese people — a dynamic, freedom-loving people who are completely distinct from the Chinese Communist Party. That begins with in-person diplomacy. I’ve met Chinese men and women of great talent and diligence wherever I go,” he said.
“I’ve met with Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs who escaped Xinjiang’s concentration camps. I’ve talked with Hong Kong’s democracy leaders, from Cardinal Zen to Jimmy Lai. Two days ago in London, I met with Hong Kong freedom fighter Nathan Law. And last month in my office, I heard the stories of Tiananmen Square survivors.”
Pompeo mentioned the “father of the Chinese democracy movement, Wei Jingsheng” who was at the event.
“He spent decades in Chinese labor camps for his advocacy,” Pompeo said.
‘[If] there is one thing I learned, communists almost always lie. The biggest lie that they tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, oppressed, and scared to speak out. Quite the contrary. The CCP fears the Chinese people’s honest opinions more than any foe, and save for losing their own grip on power, they have a reason — no reason to,” he said before touching on how the global pandemic spread from China.
“Just think how much better off the world would be — not to mention the people inside of China — if we had been able to hear from the doctors in Wuhan and they’d been allowed to raise the alarm about the outbreak of a new and novel virus,” he said.
“For too many decades, our leaders have ignored, downplayed the words of brave Chinese dissidents who warned us about the nature of the regime we’re facing. And we can’t ignore it any longer. They know as well as anyone that we can never go back to the status quo.”
Pompeo pointed out that free nations need to play their role in opposing the CCP.
“But changing the CCP’s behavior cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom. It’s the furthest thing from easy,” he said.
“But I have faith we can do it. I have faith because we’ve done it before. We know how this goes. I have faith because the CCP is repeating some of the same mistakes that the Soviet Union made — alienating potential allies, breaking trust at home and abroad, rejecting property rights and predictable rule of law.”
The challenge can be met
“I have faith because of the awakening I see among other nations that know we can’t go back to the past in the same way that we do here in America. I’ve heard this from Brussels to Sydney, to Hanoi. And most of all, I have faith we can defend freedom because of the sweet appeal of freedom itself,” he said and then gave the example of the love of freedom by the Hong Kong people.
“Look at the Hong Kongers clamoring to emigrate abroad as the CCP tightens its grip on that proud city. They wave American flags,” he said.
“It’s true, there are differences. Unlike the Soviet Union, China is deeply integrated into the global economy. But Beijing is more dependent on us than we are on them,” he said.
Pompeo said he rejected the notion that by some trap it’s pre-ordained that the CCP will be supreme in the future.
“Our approach isn’t destined to fail because America is in decline. As I said in Munich earlier this year, the free world is still winning. We just need to believe it and know it and be proud of it. People from all over the world still want to come to open societies. They come here to study, they come here to work, they come here to build a life for their families. They’re not desperate to settle in China,” he pointed out.
Pompeo said that it was now time for free nations to act.
“Not every nation will approach China in the same way, nor should they. Every nation will have to come to its own understanding of how to protect its own sovereignty, how to protect its own economic prosperity, and how to protect its ideals from the tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
“But I call on every leader of every nation to start by doing what America has done — to simply insist on reciprocity, to insist on transparency and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a cadre of rulers that are far from homogeneous,” he said. “And these simple and powerful standards will achieve a great deal. For too long we let the CCP set the terms of engagement, but no longer. Free nations must set the tone. We must operate on the same principles.”
Unity of purpose
“We have to draw common lines in the sand that cannot be washed away by the CCP’s bargains or their blandishments. Indeed, this is what the United States did recently when we rejected China’s unlawful claims in the South China Sea once and for all, as we have urged countries to become ‘clean countries’ so that their citizens’ private information doesn’t end up in the hand of the Chinese Communist Party. We did it by setting standards.”
He admitted that facing CCP would be difficult, especially for some smaller nations.
“Indeed, we have a NATO ally of ours that hasn’t stood up in the way that it needs to with respect to Hong Kong because they fear Beijing will restrict access to China’s market. This is the kind of timidity that will lead to historic failure, and we can’t repeat it,” he said.
“We cannot repeat the mistakes of these past years. The challenge of China demands exertion, energy from democracies — those in Europe, those in Africa, those in South America, and especially those in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Pompeo then spoke of what was at stake if nothing was done to address the threat of the Chinese Communist Party.
“[If] we don’t act now, ultimately the CCP will erode our freedoms and subvert the rules-based order that our societies have worked so hard to build. If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world,” he said.
“General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside of China forever unless we allow it. Now, this isn’t about containment. Don’t buy that. It’s about a complex new challenge that we’ve never faced before. The USSR was closed off from the free world. Communist China is already within our borders,” he said.
Pompeo then stressed the importance of unity in dealing with the CCP.
“So, we can’t face this challenge alone. The United Nations, NATO, the G7 countries, the G20, our combined economic, diplomatic, and military power is surely enough to meet this challenge if we direct it clearly and with great courage. Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies,” he said.
“We have the tools. I know we can do it. Now we need the will. To quote scripture, I ask is ‘our spirit willing but our flesh weak?’”
Again, Pompeo further added what was at stake for the free world.
“If the free world doesn’t change — doesn’t change, communist China will surely change us. There can’t be a return to the past practices because they’re comfortable or because they’re convenient,” he said.
“Securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time, and America is perfectly positioned to lead it because our founding principles give us that opportunity.”
Pompeo then described how the U.S. was founded on the premise that all human beings possess certain rights that are unalienable.
“And it’s our government’s job to secure those rights. It is a simple and powerful truth. It’s made us a beacon of freedom for people all around the world, including people inside of China,” he said.
“Indeed, Richard Nixon was right when he wrote in 1967 that ‘the world cannot be safe until China changes.’ Now it’s up to us to heed his words,” as he began wrapping up his major China policy statement.
“Today the danger is clear. And today the awakening is happening. Today the free world must respond. We can never go back to the past.”
Watch Secretary Pompeo deliver his speech on China policy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California: