U.S Department of State
Remarks to the Press
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
July 1, 2020
SECRETARY POMPEO: I am good. And seeing as we’re now on the Fourth of July, or quickly approaching, I thought I’d lead off with some thoughts on America’s founding principles for us this morning. The United States was the first nation established on the premise that government exists to protect our God-given, unalienable rights. I’ll have more to say about that in just a couple weeks.
It was a revolutionary idea; we shouldn’t forget that as we talk about these complex foreign policy issues. The idea of government for the people, by the people was and remains important, and was unique. We’re always striving for a more perfect union. We don’t get it right every day, but we try to improve and we use our unmatched power to protect rights at home and abroad. Happy early Fourth of July to you all, and to your families.
Now, turning to the substance of my remarks today, and I want to talk about one of the world’s most unfree countries.
Yesterday the Chinese Communist Party implemented its draconian national security law on Hong Kong, in violation of commitments that it made to the Hong Kong people and to the United Kingdom, in a UN-registered treaty – and in contravention of Hong Kongers’ human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Free Hong Kong was one of the world’s most stable, prosperous, and dynamic cities. Now it will be just another communist-run city, where its people will be subject to the party elite’s whims. It’s sad.
Indeed, this is already happening. Security forces are already rounding up Hong Kongers for daring to speak and think freely. The rule of law has been eviscerated. And as always, the Chinese Communist Party fears its own people more than anything else.
The United States is deeply concerned about the law’s sweeping provisions and the safety of everyone living in the territory, including Americans.
Article 38 of the new law also purports to apply to offenses committed outside of Hong Kong by non-residents of Hong Kong, and this likely includes Americans. This is outrageous and an affront to all nations.
On Friday, we implemented visa restrictions on those responsible for the Hong Kong crackdown. On Monday, we announced that we would end defense equipment and dual-use technology exports of U.S. origin going to the territory.
We will continue to implement President Trump’s directive to end Hong Kong’s special status.
Other federal agencies are involved as well. I applaud FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for designating Huawei and ZTE as national security risks.
We’re also continuing to take action to build on President Trump’s signing of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.
Today, the United States Department of State, along with Treasury, Commerce, and DHS, are issuing a business advisory to companies with supply chain links to entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses in Xinjiang and throughout China.
CEOs should read this notice closely and be aware of the reputational, economic, and legal risks of supporting such assaults on human dignity.
I want to call attention to recent, credible, and deeply disturbing new reports that the Chinese Communist Party is imposing forced sterilization and abortions on Uyghurs and other minorities in western China.
This shocking news is sadly consistent with the CCP’s decades-long callous disregard for the sanctity of human life. I call on all nations, women’s advocates, religious groups, and human rights organizations to stand up for the Chinese people’s basic human dignity.
The Chinese Communist Party’s brutality affects the rest of the world, too.
We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state. India’s Clean App approach will boost India’s sovereignty. It will also boost India’s integrity and national security, as the Indian Government itself has stated.
Today, Canada’s national day celebrations are dimmed by the CCP’s recent decision to bring trumped-up espionage charges against Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
The CCP’s propagandists have implied that these two Canadian citizens are hostages, held in retaliation for Canada’s lawful arrest of Huawei’s executive. She is charged by the Department of Justice with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.
I commend the Canadian Government for standing firm and backing their independent legal system. Hostage-taking for political gains puts China in league with the Irans and Venezuelas of the world. The two Mikes need to come home now.
In the Middle East:
At the fourth Brussels conference on Syria yesterday, the United States announced almost $700 million in humanitarian assistance to support Syrians inside the country and displaced abroad, bringing our total funding to just over $11.3 billion since the conflict began more than nine years ago.
In Iraq, I want to commend the government there for bringing all armed groups under its control, including those firing rockets at Iraqi government facilities. The presence of these lawless actors remains the single biggest obstacle to additional assistance or economic investment for the country. For the world to help Iraq, Iraq must first help itself. Baghdad’s actions are a step in the right direction and we applaud them.
I want to note three brutal honor killings that have taken place in Iran: 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi, 19-year-old Fatemeh Barhi, and 22-year-old Rayhaneh Ameri. Two were beheaded and one was beaten to death with an iron bar at the hands of relatives.
For 40 years, corrupt Iranian leaders have condoned murder, dehumanized women, and ignored cries for justice. When will they stop this unspeakable wicked assault on human dignity?
Staying on Iran: As many of you saw yesterday, I spoke to the UN Security Council, urging them to retain the 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran. These restrictions, as a result of the failed JCPOA, are set to expire in October.
If Iran is allowed to buy weapons from the likes of China and Russia, more civilians in the Middle East will die at the hands of the regime and its proxies. It’s that straightforward. Tehran will become an arms dealer for the Maduros and Assads of the world. Sworn enemies of Israel like Hamas and Hizballah will be better armed. European nations will be put at risk.
Our team has put together a short video that explains why this is so important. I’d like to show it to you now.
(A video was played.)
So when you all hear about legal niceties and complexities and intra – international fighting about what the right course of action is, remind yourself about what happens to the world if this arms embargo is lifted. In the end, that’s what matters. In the end, that’s what the UN Security Council has the capacity to ensure does not take place. I remind you to go back and look at remarks from the previous administration about the fact that the United States has the unambiguous right, without the consent of any other nation, to ensure that this arms embargo stays in place. This administration is going to do everything we can to make sure that that happens to keep not only American people safe but to reduce instability in the Middle East.
A little north of Iran:
We applaud this week’s constitutional reform in the Republic of Georgia. We call on Georgia’s parliament to honor the will of the Georgian people and pledges of Georgian officials through the passage and implementation of internationally recommended election reforms. Good on them.
And yesterday, for the third time in less than a year, I met with my counterparts from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in the C5+1 format. We share many common goals, including peace in Afghanistan; strengthening regional trade, energy, and security ties; and building resilient economies for each of those countries.
As a sign of America’s focus on building genuine partnerships, our Development Finance Corporation CEO, Adam Boehler, is today accompanying Ambassador Khalilzad on a trip to the region to scout out investment opportunities where American businesses can be successful and help these countries be sovereign and independent as well.
Congratulations are in order for the Democratic Republic of Congo. In an unprecedented ruling, President Tshisekedi’s chief of staff was convicted for corruption. No one, however high in office, should be above the law.
And last week, the people of Malawi elected Lazarus Chakwera as their next president. This is only the second time – the second time that a court – second time that in America – in Africa, rather – that a court has overturned a presidential election tainted by irregularities, and the only time that a re-election process has resulted in the election of an opposite party candidate. Truly a historic opportunity for the people of that country.
This past week, the United States and Russia held the first round of nuclear arms control talks. Our two sides met in Vienna. They had positive, detailed discussions on a wide range of topics, including China’s secretive build-up. Beijing regrettably boycotted the talks, continuing its record of secrecy and rejection of multilateralism.
And on Monday, the Bureau of Energy Resources led an interagency working group as part of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue, where we’re working together to diversify energy sources in Southeast Europe, develop resources together, and promote regional energy security.
And finally, to our hemisphere:
All 21 OAS member states voted last week to condemn the Maduro regime’s attempts to suppress independent political parties in Venezuela. Our region has categorically rejected the attempts to create a phony, Maduro-friendly opposition.
The United States also congratulates the people of Suriname on their elections and a peaceful transition of power to a new National Assembly. We look forward to working with that new government.
In contrast, it’s now been four months since Guyana’s election – long past due for a peaceful transition of power. CARICOM and the OAS have certified the recount results. They should get on with it.
I’ve instructed my department to ensure those who undermine Guyana’s democracy are held accountable.
Also, today the USMCA comes into effect. It will open up new opportunities for U.S, Mexico, and Canadian business and consumers. Good news.
Finally, I’ll bookend my remarks by marking another anniversary. July 1st marks the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Thailand. American educational programs and cultural programs–the world like this underscore America’s respect for freedom, democracy, decency, and respect for human rights. And with that, I’m happy to take questions from you all this morning.