In the backdrop of rising US-China tensions, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday (local time) said that “distrust and verify” will be the new approach by Washington with regard to its dealing with Beijing.
He called on countries to pressurise the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to change its behaviour in more “creative and assertive ways”.
“The only way to truly change communist China is to act on the basis of what its leaders do, not what they say. (Former) President (Ronald) Reagan dealt with the Soviets on the basis of ‘trust but verify.’ When it comes to the CCP, I say, ‘Distrust and verify’,” Pompeo said while speaking on ‘Communist China and the Free World’s Future’ at Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.
“We, the free nations of the world, must induce change in the CCP’s behaviour in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity,” he added.
Pompeo said that “if the free world does not change communist China, then communist China will change us.”
“There can be no return to past practices just because they are comfortable or convenient,” he added.
For having a free 21st century, and “not the Chinese century President Xi Jinping dreams of,” the top US diplomat said that the old paradigm of blind engagement with China has failed.
“We must not continue it. We must not return to it. As President (Donald) Trump has made clear, we need a strategy that protects the American economy and our way of life. The free world must triumph over this new tyranny,” Pompeo said.
“We know now that trading with China is not like trading with a normal and law-abiding nation.
Beijing treats international agreements as suggestions, as conduits for global dominance. Doing business with a CCP-backed company is not the same as doing business with, say, a Canadian
company. They do not answer to independent boards or pursue profit,” he said.
Citing Huawei’s example, Pompeo said that the US has stopped recognising the Chinese tech giant as an “innocent telecommunications company” and has called it a “national security threat,” while adding that Washington has taken appropriate action in this regard.
Spoke on the human rights abuse being committed by the CCP in Uyghur-populated Xinjiang province, Pompeo said, “If our companies invest in China, they may wittingly or unwittingly support the Communist Party’s gross human rights abuses.”
“(Department of) Treasury and (Department of) Commerce have thus sanctioned and blacklisted Chinese leaders and entities harming America and abusing human rights. Several agencies worked together on a business advisory to make certain our CEOs have been forewarned,” he added.
“We know now that not all Chinese students and employees are normal students or workers, pursuing knowledge for themselves — some of them are garnering it, through study or theft for the benefit of the CCP or its proxies,” Pompeo stated.
The US Secretary of State also said that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not a normal army as its purpose is to “uphold the absolute rule of the CCP elites and expand a Chinese empire, not protect the Chinese people”.
“So the Department of Defense has ramped up its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. We created the Space Force to help deter Chinese aggression on the final frontier,” Pompeo further said.