U.S Department of State
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
July 30, 2020
QUESTION: We’re across the nation on some amazing radio stations. Of course, we’re on your iHeartRadio app, and we’re at joepags.com. I’m Simon Conway, I’m in for Joe, and it is an absolute honor to welcome our Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the show. How are you, sir?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Simon, it’s great to be with you. I’m doing well. I hope you’re doing well also.
QUESTION: I’m doing very well. It’s always good to talk to you. It seems that our thoughts, however, are pretty much captivated in terms of what you’re doing with China once again. I’ve got like a pile of China stories I could talk to you about. Is this occupying nearly all of your time, or are there other countries we have to concern ourselves with?
SECRETARY POMPEO: There are – look, there are many challenges that are presented to American national security, but none today that rival the scope and the scale and the duration of the challenge that President Trump identified back in the campaign in 2015 and 2016. He talked about this threat. It’s been out there for decades, politicians of both political parties ignored it, and President Trump’s been prepared to take it on. We’ve allowed the risk level to become too high now; we have to rebalance this. We have to be clear-eyed about the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses, and the Trump administration is well underway in doing that.
QUESTION: So we – you and I have talked before about the way they’ve been treating their Muslim population. Now we discover the Chinese Communist Party is reportedly forcing people of faith to renounce their Christian beliefs and replace religious symbols with imagery and portraits of Chairman Mao and current President Xi.
SECRETARY POMPEO: There is enormous risk to believers of all faiths inside of China. You – we talked about the Uyghurs in the west when we last spoke, right, the kinds of conditions that we haven’t seen since the 1930s in terms of the human rights violations. But you rightly point out Christians have been under pressure inside of China for an awfully long time, it is only getting worse. And then recently we’ve now seen reporting that the Chinese went so far as to hack Vatican websites in order to get a jump on negotiations with the Vatican about the appropriate role for the Catholic Church inside of China. Look, it’s a report. What we know is this threat, the Chinese Communist Party threat, this is what totalitarian regimes do. They can’t allow religious freedom because people of conscience understand that those freedoms that they value would be at risk. The party understands that the things that they want to keep people from doing would be a risk if they permitted (inaudible) kind of exercise of individual conscience rights.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about your speech at the Nixon Library. I’ve been there, by the way; everybody should go. It’s a fascinating place, it really is. Let’s talk about that. Right almost at the beginning you were recognizing Chinese dissidents who were actually at the library. How much – that you can give us without endangering anybody – how much intelligence are they supplying to us that’s useful?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I – Simon, I’ll answer that this way: We, in every country with which we’re engaged, talk to people all across the spectrum. We always speak with government leaders, we speak with business leaders. The Chinese, when they’re here in the United States, they speak with people from the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. We want to make sure we’re reaching out to all the various voices from China, and not just those who represent the one-party state, the Chinese Communist Party. And so we have conversations with them, they share their experiences, we take those on board. And we can see, we can see from the experiences that many of those have, that this is a place that has all the core elements of what General Secretary Xi described as socialism with Chinese characteristics.
QUESTION: The Nixon Library is an interesting choice. Next year, of course, is the 50th anniversary since Henry Kissinger went on a secret mission there; 2022 will be the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s trip itself. It was a very different world then, wasn’t it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We were thrilled to get the invitation from the Nixon Library to come give this set of remarks. It was indeed a very different world 50 years ago. And the opening – President Nixon was a very wise, very capable foreign policy student. He knew, he described what he was doing – he knew the risks and the opportunities. He said I hope I’m not creating a “Frankenstein.” And here we are. And the sad thing is, at least since 1989, at least since Tiananmen Square, we have known the threat to American national security and jobs all across America that are gone because of Chinese intellectual property theft.
We need to rebalance this relationship. We need to take a policy that says no longer can we simply conduct commercial operations and ignore everything else. We’ve seen enough promises broken that we know we must distrust and verify, a little turn on the phrase that President Reagan had used, because this is a regime that hasn’t told the world the truth about so many things, including the virus that we’re all suffering now that began in Wuhan.
QUESTION: Right. There’s a lot of people still wearing masks, I believe you pointed out. But perhaps more importantly than the mask thing, we’ve also got to look at the restrictions of freedom in places like Hong Kong. We see headlines every day, don’t we?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes sir, and the next – the next big marker will be a set of elections scheduled for – goodness – a month and half from now on September 6th. So these are elections for the legislative council. They must proceed on time. They must be held. The people of Hong Kong deserve to have their voice represented by the elected officials that they choose in those elections. There – Hong Kong law that they proceed. If they destroy that, if they take that down, it will be another marker that will simply prove that the Chinese Communist Party has now made Hong Kong just another communist-run city.
QUESTION: So as you rightly point out, it’s – both sides of the political aisle have just let China get away with murder, frankly. You talk about the – our intellectual property. I live in a state, Iowa, where we caught Chinese individuals quite literally digging seed out of our ground. We caught them red-handed doing it. So there is no – it’s not just CDs and movies from Hollywood. I mean, that is Iowa’s lifeblood, and Iowa feeds the country, if not the world.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Goodness, we’ve seen this. We’ve seen their attempts to steal the vaccine technology. We’ve seen their efforts to steal blueprints and engineering for our most important defense systems and equipment. You talked about it in the world of food science and agriculture. This is a broad-based effort not to build out their economy, not to educate their people, not to train them and compete like freedom-loving nations do, but rather to choose to do it a different way – to steal, to lie, to conduct espionage for commercial benefit, and then dump that on the world with state-sponsored enterprise. This is not a party – the Chinese Communist Party is not a party that understands that the rule of law should be the prevailing set of norms for the next century, and it is the American responsibility to meet – to lead a democratic alliance to ensure that it is and that the next century our kids, our grandkids will live in a world that is governed by a set of rules that has created so much wealth and so much prosperity here in the United States. And Donald Trump gets that.
QUESTION: You talk about the fact that we marginalized Taiwan while we were engaging China, but China was coming here “into our press conferences” – I’m quoting you now – “our research centers, our high schools, our colleges, and even into our PTA meetings.”
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, it’s quite remarkable. This is the activity here on the home front. You’ve seen us take a number of responses, most recently the closure of the den of spies which was the Chinese consulate in Houston; not only that State Department action, but you saw the action that the Department of Justice and the FBI took in indicting some people who were engaged in that kind of espionage. The Chinese Communist Party is here working to influence and undermine our democracy. We can’t let it happen.
QUESTION: I just want to talk about Joe Biden on China, because he’s very interesting. He – I’m paraphrasing the former vice president at this point, but he said China is indeed a bad actor, but we’re going to carry on dealing with them. It was almost like a business as usual thing with him.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, this has been the mode for a couple of decades. Certainly was the model for the eight years that the vice president was in office under President Obama, where there was this idea that if you just traded more, if you just engaged more that they would change their behavior. All the while they were stealing our stuff and destroying millions of jobs here in the United States and creating enormous risk and security issues where they took an island in the South China Sea and the Obama-Biden administration did nothing in response.
We’re turning that tide. We’re turning it around. We’re building out a global alliance of democracies. I think the world has come to see the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses. I hope that both political parties can see it that way as well.
QUESTION: And sir, before I let you go, because we’re fast running out of time here: So we’re being tough now, quite rightly, long overdue – decades overdue, some people would say. We’re doing this. What’s the fallout? I mean, trade-wise, we’re obviously seeking other markets. How important is it that we have a proper relationship with China, and does this force them to the table or does it just make them more aggressive towards us?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Weakness breeds risk and strength is respected with respect to the Chinese Communist Party. So you can see that in how China has responded to President Trump just being candid, just being honest. This isn’t about being angry. This is about rebalancing a relationship that has fallen out of balance over 40 years and demanding that the Chinese Communist Party participate on the global stage in the way that we demand every country does. If they’ll simply do that, then we’ll find places we can work together. If they don’t, the United States is going to be vigorous about ensuring that not only the United States but other countries around the world participate in the international marketplace and in the international national security space in a way that reflects the things that will protect Americans each and every day.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it’s an absolute honor to talk to you. Thank you for giving us the time. I really do appreciate it, sir. You have yourself a great rest of the day.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Simon. Blessings to you. So long.
QUESTION: Take care. Bye-bye.