Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
September 2, 2020
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. Good to see you all.
I want to start today talking about multilateralism. The Trump administration wants multilateral institutions to function, to actually work. But multilateralism just for the sake of it, just to get together in a room and chat, doesn’t add value.
That brings me to the International Criminal Court, a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution. The United States has never ratified the Rome Statute that created the court, and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.
In June, the Trump administration authorized the imposition of economic sanctions against foreign persons directly engaged in ICC efforts to investigate U.S. or allied personnel, and those who materially assisted in those – in that effort.
Today we take the next step, because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly.
Pursuant to Executive Order 13928, the United States will designate ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the ICC’s Head of Jurisdiction, Complementary, and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko for having materially assisted Prosecutor Bensouda.
Individuals and entities that continue to materially support those individuals risk exposure to sanctions as well.
Additionally, the State Department has restricted the issuance of visas for certain individuals involved in the ICC’s efforts to investigate U.S. personnel.
On the multilateral front further, I look forward to seeing my ASEAN and Indo-Pacific counterparts next week at a host of virtual meetings.
We’ll have discussions that will be wide-ranging, including on COVID, North Korea, South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Burma’s Rakhine State.
I’ll also raise how the Trump administration is restoring reciprocity to the U.S.-China relationship. And today we continue that necessary work.
For years, the Chinese Communist Party has imposed significant barriers on American diplomats working inside the PRC.
Specifically, the Chinese Communist Party has implemented a system of opaque approval processes, designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business, attending events, securing meetings, and connecting with the Chinese people, especially on university campuses and via the press and social media.
Today I’m announcing the State Department has established a mechanism requiring approval for senior Chinese diplomats in the United States to visit university campuses and to meet with local government officials. Cultural events with groups larger than 50 people hosted by the Chinese embassy and consular posts outside our mission properties will also require our approval.
Additionally, we’re taking further steps to ensure that all official PRC embassy and consular social media accounts are properly identified as government accounts, Chinese Government accounts.
I have David Stilwell, our Assistant Secretary of East Asia-Pacific Affairs, with me today. He’ll take questions.
We’re simply demanding reciprocity. Access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access that Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction.
Further on China:
Under Secretary Krach sent a letter recently to the governing boards of American universities, altering them to the threats the Chinese Communist Party poses to academic freedom, to human rights, and to university endowments.
These threats can come in the form of illicit funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of foreign students, and opaque talent recruitment efforts.
University governing boards can help ensure their institutions have clean investments and clean endowment funds by taking a few key steps:
Disclose all PRC companies invested in endowment funds, especially those in emerging-market index funds.
Divest from Chinese companies on the Commerce Department Entity List that are contributing to human rights violations, military coercion, and other abuses.
And simply understand the recommendations issued by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which examined the risk to investors of Chinese companies that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges.
Staying on China, but moving beyond our borders:
We’re hoping for a peaceful resolution to the situation on the India-China border. From the Taiwan Strait, to the Himalayas, and beyond, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbors.
That bullying is also evident in the South China Sea. Last week, the United States imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese individuals and entities responsible for the CCP’s imperialism there, doing things such as unlawful energy surveillance, activities in the economic zones of our ally the Philippines and other countries.
We also remain concerned – we’ve talked about this before – the activities of more than 300 Chinese-flagged vessels near the Galapagos, which are almost certainly engaged in illegal fishing.
In light of this maritime lawlessness, it’s no surprise that Beijing’s candidate in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea election last week received more abstentions than any other candidate.
China is the most flagrant violator of the Law of the Sea Convention, and nations all across the world are registering their disapproval.
We’re also concerned about Chinese actions in Tibet, in light of the general secretary’s recent calls to “Sinicize” Tibetan Buddhism and fight “splittism” there. We continue to call upon Beijing to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions, to reach a settlement that resolves their differences.
We’re also tracking the situation in Belarus closely. Deputy Secretary Biegun traveled there last week at my direction. Belarusians deserve the right to choose their own leaders through a truly free and fair election under independent observation.
We demand an immediate end to the violence against them and the release of all who are unjustly detained, and that includes U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov.
We’re closely coordinating, too, with our transatlantic partners, and are together reviewing significant, targeted sanctions on anyone involved in human rights abuses and repression.
Turning to the Middle East, where I just got back from a productive trip and where we have senior officials there today:
The region is changing rapidly thanks to President Trump’s leadership building up ties between Israel and its neighbors. The Abraham Accords are clear proof of just that.
So is the first-ever direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, which took place this week, and the first direct flight between Israel and Sudan, which I was honored to make during my trip.
Additionally, at every stop, I urged my counterparts to stand united against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s threats the region.
Which leads to my next point:
Forty years ago – forty years ago this month, the Iranian regime arrested nine members of the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. No one has heard from them since.
Sadly, we must conclude that these nine individuals met the same fate as the more than 200 other Iranian Baha’is who have been executed for peacefully practicing their faith.
We ask the international community: When will Iran’s regime be held accountable for those crimes?
In Africa, we welcome the news that Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government initiated a historic peace agreement with several opposition groups. That’s good news. They suggested to me when I was visiting them that would likely occur. Good on them.
And here close at home in the Western Hemisphere, the United States candidate Mauricio Claver-Carone is the right person for the presidency of the International Development Bank. The vote, currently scheduled for September 12th, should not be delayed. It should happen that day.
And on Venezuela, 34 countries have no\ joined the growing list – the growing international consensus in favor of a transitional government. More and more nations know that the fraudulent National Assembly elections scheduled for – scheduled by Maduro for December 6th of this year will neither be fair nor free.
We also call on free and fair elections in Haiti as soon as technically feasible.
And with that, I’m happy to take a handful of questions today.