Mike Pompeo and China’s Threat to American Hegemony

In a recent interview with Danielle Pletka and Marc A Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute, an officially non-partisan public policy think tank that is associated with the conservative movement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waxed philosophically on a wide range of subjects including Iran, Venezuela and partisan politics in the United States.  He also explained the Trump Administration's strategy toward China, particularly as China's approach to Hong Kong is evolving.  Let's look at some of Pompeo's key remarks starting with his comments on Hong Kong.  Please note that all bolds are mine.

Danielle Pletka:  "Mr. Secretary, I really want to ask you about Hong Kong and China. This has really been the year of China in so many ways. And as soon as COVID started to fade, they stepped up their aggression in Hong Kong. You've taken some steps but tell me what you think the US options are."

Secretary Pompeo:  "Well, Danielle, that's an important topic and it needs to be put in context. Your point about the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party, which continued to hide and obfuscate and delay the global response to the pandemic that began in Wuhan.  Now the actions that the Chinese Communist Party has made with respect to destroying the amazing freedoms of the people of Hong Kong decades before the promise that they had made to the people of Hong Kong ran out. Those are just two pieces of the behavior of this regime from the Chinese Communist Party, the nature and the activity that they're undertaking, the continued efforts to steal intellectual property, to advance in the South China Sea.

We see even today increasing forces of China moved up to the north of India on the line of actual control there on the Indian border. These are the kinds of actions that authoritarian regimes take and they have a real impact, not only on the Chinese people there in China and Hong Kongers in Hong Kong, but a real impact on people all around the world. And the United States has a responsibility and the capability to push back against that, ensure that the American people are properly served by foreign policy that recognizes the threats that emanate from China today."

Now, let's look at how the United States plans to push back on China's approach to Hong Kong:

Secretary Pompeo:  "First, look, we always hold out hope that the Chinese Communist Party will change direction and continue to honor the commitments that they made under international law, the treaty that they signed on for. Our actions will certainly be aimed at trying to convince them that that's the right course of action. It's what we hope for, for the world and for the people of Hong Kong, but in the event that they don't go in that direction, which is, I think, the more likely case given what we've seen them do over the past several weeks, the United States is going to impose a cost on the decision makers who deny this freedom to  the people of Hong Kong.

We will also, as I said in the statement that I made this week that I was required to do in a report to Congress, we no longer have a highly autonomous region. That means that the behavior and the relationships that we have with Hong Kong will look more like the relationships we have with China. That is the preference set that was given to Hong Kong as a result of the Chinese commitment to freedom in Hong Kong. And one country and two systems will begin to look less and less like there are really two systems as a reflection of the fact that there aren’t.  So the President will lay out the range of responses that we're going to undertake. And then in addition to that, I was on the phone with my Australian counterpart early this morning, been talking to my counterparts all across the region and across the world, I think the world has come to understand that a commitment from the Chinese Communist Party is no longer something that they can rely upon. And that has real implications for how we opt to respond to what they're doing in Hong Kong today."

In contrast, it's certainly reassuring to know that the world can always count on Washington's commitments….at least until the nation's leaders change their minds. (sarcasm intended)

Now, let's look at how Pompeo feels about China's foray into a multipolar world as it threatens America's global hegemony:

"Danielle Pletka:  So Mr. Secretary, you mentioned Australia, you mentioned India, you mentioned the South China Sea. Marc and I have been talking a lot about this both with people in Hong Kong and elsewhere. And one of the things that Marc has suggested to me is that he thinks that the Chinese are acting from a place of weakness and fear and that that's one of the things that's driving this strife and aggression that we've seen over the last six months.  Sure, there was a bunch beforehand but we've really seen an escalation over that time period. What do you see as the root of this?

Secretary Pompeo:  Your point is very well-taken. It's not just over the past six months. We've seen over the past number of years, continued Chinese build out of the military capabilities and then continually more aggressive action. I mentioned India. You mentioned the South China Sea. We see these same kind of things with them attempting to build ports around the world as part of their Belt and Road Initiative, places where they can move the People's Liberation Army, Navy. We've seen their continued efforts to expand militarily. Danielle, I'll be honest. For 20 years, the United States has not responded to these things in a real way. We've viewed the 1.5 billion people in the Chinese market as so important to the American economy and the risk that the Chinese would respond by closing us out for the favor of some other nation.

I think people have just been too worried about that to actually take the responses that we take to every other country that behaves in the way that China has done. President Trump hasn't done that. President Trump's made it very clear, whether it's the signature issue on trade, where he made clear the responsibility for there to be fair and reciprocal trade but now beginning to move to all the other elements of  power that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to expand.  So I think you've seen too our Department of Defense do its part to begin  to make sure that we do the things that are right to challenge this continued expansion and aggression in a way that is responsible. And I'm confident we'll continue to do that."

All I can say is that, unlike the Chinese, it is a good thing that the United States hasn't expanded its military presence around the globe as shown here:

Let's close this part of the posting with an additional quote from Pompeo about China, the coronavirus and the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party and America's role in ensuring freedom:

"I think you have seen a shift over the past two years but most dramatically over the past six months as a result of what I think was laid bare during the coronavirus issue, the nature of an authoritarian regime, how they respond in a time of crisis, how they hide and use disinformation and how all of the incentives inside of the country are set up to prevent protecting other people around the world.

I could spend a lot of time talking about the fact they closed down Hubei province but continued to demand that the World Health Organization not identify for the world the magnitude of the threat. I think the world has seen that. And so you mentioned Australia, you mentioned the United Kingdom. I think many countries are beginning to recognize the threat that is to their people and to their nation as a result of the nature of the Chinese Communist Party and its continued efforts to expand its reach around the world. And I'm confident that will continue to grow and the United States will lead the way in making sure that group of freedom loving nations, who found their nations on the idea of individual rights and human dignity, will stay together. And we will ultimately be successful at delivering on those for the people of each of our democratic nations."

Now, let's take a brief look at what Mike Pompeo had to say about China's foray into social media apps, in particular, TikTok:

I find it rather amusing to hear an American politician say this:

"We have been engaged in a constant evaluation about ensuring that we protect the privacy of American citizens and their information as it transits….we are now evaluating each instance where we believe that U.S. citizens' data have on their phones or in their system or in their health care records.  We want to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party doesn't have a way to easily access that."

How dare they!  Doesn't China realize that Americans' most personal information belongs to Washington's intelligence complex?  It's also interesting to note that Pompeo raises the Cold War spectre of the "dirty commie" by referring to China as the Chinese Communist Party three times in less than a minute.

It is rapidly becoming apparent that China is the new "bogeyman" in the eyes of Washington.  While Russia is the "old standby" when it comes to threatening America's self-perception as the world's only superpower, China is finding itself in Washington's crosshairs when it comes to any moves that it makes to control any part of the world that Washington deems its own.

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