Jul 23, 2020
Mike Pompeo China Speech Transcript July 23 at Nixon Library
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a July 23 speech on U.S. & China relations at the Nixon Library. He said the free world must change China or “China will change us.” Read the speech transcript here.
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Christopher Nixon Cox: (00:14)
Good afternoon. I’m Christopher Nixon Cox, grandson of President Richard Nixon, and on behalf of my family and the board of directors of the Nixon Foundation, I want to welcome you to another important event here at the Richard Nixon Library, birthplace and museum, the birthplace of which is right behind me here. Today, we are honored to have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to have chosen the Nixon Library to make a major speech about U.S.-China relations. Like we do so often at the library, we’re going to begin our program with a prayer. Would you please remain standing and welcome Greg Laurie, the senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, for an invocation.
Greg Laurie: (01:04)
Let’s all pray together. Father, we’re so thankful to live in this country, the United States of America, and one thing we treasure so greatly is the freedom we have from you to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We have the freedom to speak our mind, the freedom to worship, and the freedom to proclaim the message that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead and can give the personal life, liberty and happiness if we will put our trust in him, but we have other brothers and sisters in other countries that don’t have this freedom.
Greg Laurie: (01:37)
We think of those suffering under the tyranny of China, including our own persecuted church. We pray for them that you would strengthen them and help them. We thank you for President Trump, who wants to lead us courageously in the right way, and we thank you for Secretary Pompeo, who is a champion of these rights. We pray for a Secretary Pompeo is your servant as he travels around the world to help spread this freedom that we enjoy. We commit this meeting, this speech, and most importantly, our nation, to you. We ask you to protect guide and bless the United States of America. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Mike Pompeo: (02:21)
Thank you, pastor. Let’s remain standing as we salute our country. Please, with the presentation of colors and the national anthem.
Speaker 1: (02:29)
[inaudible 00:02:35]. Colors. Halt. [inaudible 00:02:58].
Kayla Highsmith: (02:29)
Speaker 1: (02:29)
Mike Pompeo: (04:50)
Thank you, and you may be seated. Please join me in thanking the Air Force Blue Eagles honor guard and Senior Airman Kayla Highsmith of the Air Force Band of the Golden West for that beautiful rendition. My grandfather’s vision and courage made the United States opening to China possible when he and my grandmother went there almost 50 years ago in 1972. He called that the week that changed the world, and he understood that the world is always changing. Secretary Pompeo is on the front line of America’s foreign policy, and it’s fitting that he is here at the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace to discuss the relationship between our two countries today. It is my privilege now to introduce a distinguished statesman, a mayor, a senator, a governor and an old and close friend of my family, the Nixon family, who will introduce Secretary Pompeo. In fact, my family asked this old and dear friend to eulogize both my grandmother and my grandfather in this exact location 26 and 27 years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Governor Pete Wilson.
Pete Wilson: (06:13)
Well, thank you very much, Chris. Most generous. I’m not sure your grandfather would have recognized me. I have the great pleasure in addition to welcoming all of you to the Nixon Birthplace and Library. I have the great pleasure of introducing to you an extraordinary American, who is here at an extraordinary time, but the fun of it is in introducing our honored guest, I also have welcoming him not just to the Nixon Library, but I’m welcoming back home to Orange County. That’s right. Mike Pompeo was born in Orange. He attended Los Amigos high school in Fountain Valley, where he was an outstanding student and athlete. In fact, I have it on good authority that among the fans of glory days of low ball, a reverent hush descends upon the crowd whenever the name Pompeo is mentioned.
Pete Wilson: (08:08)
The secretary was first in his class at West Point. He won the award as the most distinguished cadet. He won another award for the highest achievement in engineering management. He spent his active duty years, his Army years in West Germany, and as he put it, patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1988 … Excuse me. Retiring with a rank of captain. He went on to Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review. In 1988, he returned to his mother’s home state of Kansas and began a stunningly successful business career.
Pete Wilson: (09:13)
He was elected to the house of representatives from Kansas in 2011, where he soon gained great respect for a reputation as one of the most diligent and astute members of the House Intelligence Committee. In 2017, President Trump nominated him to be the director of Central Intelligence, and in 2018, he was confirmed as our 70th Secretary of State. You have to admit, that’s quite an impressive resume. So it’s said there’s only one thing missing prevents it from being perfect. If only Mike had been a Marine. Don’t worry. He’ll get even.
Pete Wilson: (10:09)
Mike Pompeo is a man devoted to his family, is a man of faith, of the greatest patriotism and the highest principle. One of his most important initiatives that the state department has been the creation of a commission on unalienable rights, where academicians, philosophers and ethicists advise him on human rights grounded in America’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Rights. He is here today for a very special reason. The epitaph on President Nixon’s grave stone is a sentence from his first inaugural address. It says, “The greatest honor can bestow is the title of peacemaker.” Richard Nixon received that title. He won that honor not only because he was acknowledged even by his critics to be a brilliant foreign policy strategist, but it was far more because he earned it.
Pete Wilson: (11:40)
He learned as congressman, senator, president and every day thereafter as a private citizen ambassador that peace is not achieved by saying documents and declaring the job done. To the contrary, he knew that peace is always a work in progress. He knew the peace must be fought for and won anew in every generation. It was President Nixon’s vision, determination and courage that opened China to America and to the Western world. As president and for the rest of his life, Richard Nixon worked to build a relationship with China based upon mutual benefits and obligations that respected America’s bedrock national interests. Today, we in America are obliged to assess whether or not President Nixon’s labors and his hopes for such a relationship have been met, or whether they are being undermined. That is why it is of such great significance that our honored guest, Secretary Pompeo, has chosen the Nixon Library from which to deliver a major China policy statement. It will, I promise you, be a statement of complete clarity, delivered with force and with belief, because it is of critical importance. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great honor and pleasure …
Pete Wilson: (14:02)
It is my great honor and pleasure to welcome to this podium and to this audience our honored guest, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, the honorable and really quite remarkable, honorable Michael R. Pompeo.
Mike Pompeo: (14:34)
Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you [inaudible 00:14:51] for that very, very generous introduction. It’s true, when you walk in that gym and you say the name Pompeo there is a whisper. I had a brother, Mark, who was really good, really good basketball player. And how about another round of applause for the Blue Eagles Honor Guard and senior [inaudible 00:15:07] and her wonderful rendition of the national anthem. Thank you too to Pastor [Laurie 00:15:14] for that moving prayer. And I want to think Hugh Hewitt and the Nixon Foundation for your invitation to speak at this important American institution. It’s great to be sung to by an Air Force person, introduced by a Marine, and they let the Army guy in front of the Navy guy’s house. It’s all good.
Mike Pompeo: (15:35)
It’s an honor to be here, [inaudible 00:15:37]. Nixon’s father built the house in which he was born and raised, too. All the Nixon Center Board and staff who made today possible, it’s difficult in these times. Thanks for making this day possible for me and for my team. We are blessed to have some incredibly special people in the audience, including Chris, who I’ve gotten to know, Chris Nixon. Also want to think Trisha Nixon and Julie Nixon Eisenhower for their support of this visit as well. I want to recognize several courageous Chinese dissidents who have joined us here today and made a long trip. And to all the other distinguished guests… to all the other distinguished guests, thank you for being here. For those of you got under the tent, you must’ve paid extra. And those of you watching live, thank you for tuning in. And finally, as the Governor mentioned, I was born here in [inaudible 00:16:29] and not very far from here. I’ve got my sister and her husband in the audience today. Thank you all for coming out. I bet you never thought that I’d be standing up here.
Mike Pompeo: (16:39)
My remarks today are the fourth set of remarks in a series of China speeches that I asked National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Chris Wray, and the Attorney General Barr to delivery alongside me. We had a very clear purpose, our real mission was to explain the different facets of America’s relationship with China. The massive imbalances in that relationship that have built up over decades and the Chinese Communist Party’s designs for hegemony. Our goal was to make clear that the threats to Americans that President Trump’s China policy aims to address are clear and our strategy for securing those freedoms established.
Mike Pompeo: (17:27)
Ambassador Brian spoke about ideology. FBI Director Wray talked about espionage. Attorney General Barr spoke about economics. And now my goal today is to put it all together for the American people and detail what the China threat means for our economy, for our liberty, and indeed for the future of free democracies around the world. Next year marks half a century since Dr. Kissinger’s secret mission to China and the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s trip isn’t too far in 2022. The world was much different then. We imagined engagement with China would produce a future with bright promise, of comity and cooperation. But today, today we’re all still wearing masks and watching the pandemic’s body count rise because that CCP failed in its promises to the world. We’re reading every morning new headlines of repression in Hong Kong and in [inaudible 00:18:26]. We’re seeing staggering statistic of Chinese trade abuses that cost American jobs and strike enormous blows to the economies all across America including here in Southern California. And we’re watching a Chinese military that grows stronger and stronger and indeed more menacing.
Mike Pompeo: (18:46)
I’ll echo the questions ringing in the hearts and minds of Americans from here in California to my home state of Kansas and beyond. What do the American people have to show now, 50 years on, from engagement with China? Did the theories of our leaders that proposed a Chinese evolution towards freedom and democracy prove to be true? Is this China’s definition of a win-win situation? And indeed, centrally, from the Secretary of State’s perspective, is America safer? Do we have a greater likelihood of peace for ourselves and peace for the generations which will follow us.
Mike Pompeo: (19:23)
Look, we have to admit a hard truth. [inaudible 00:19:28] that should guide us in the years and decades to come. That if we want to have a free 21st century and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams. The old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done. We must not continue it. And we must not return to it. As President Trump has made very clear, we need a strategy that protects the American economy and indeed our way of life. The free world must triumph over this new tyranny. Now, before I seem too eager to tear down President Nixon’s legacy I want to be clear that he did what he believed was best for the American people at the time and he may well have been right. He was a brilliant student of China, a fierce Cold Warrior, and a tremendous admirer of the Chinese people, just as I think we all are. He deserves enormous credit for realizing that China was too important to be ignored even when the nation with as weakened because of it’s own self-inflicted Communist brutality. In 1967, in a very famous foreign affairs article, Nixon explained his future strategy. Here’s what he said. He said, “Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside of the family of nations. The world cannot be safe until China changes. Thus our aim, to the extent we can, we must influence events. We should, our goal should be to induce change.” And I think that’s the key phrase from the entire article, to induce change. So, with that historic trip to Beijing, President Nixon kicked off our engagement strategy. He nobly sought a freer and safer world and he hoped that the Chinese Communist Party would return that commitment.
Mike Pompeo: (21:16)
As time went on, American policy makers increasingly presumed that as China became more prosperous it would open up. It would become free at home and indeed present less of a threat abroad. It’d be friendlier. It all seemed, I’m sure, so inevitable. But that age of inevitability is over. The kind of engagement we’ve been pursuing has not brought the kind of change inside of China that President Nixon had hoped to induce. The truth is that our policies and those of other free nations resurrected China’s failing economy only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it. We opened our arms to Chinese citizens only to see the Chinese Communist Party exploit our free and open society.China sent propagandists into our press conferences, our research centers, our high schools, our colleges, and even into our PTA meetings.
Mike Pompeo: (22:13)
We marginalized our friends in Taiwan which later blossomed into a vigorous democracy. We gave the Chinese Communist Party and the regime itself special economic treatment only to see the CCP insist on silence over its human rights abuses as the price of admission for Western companies entering China. Ambassador Brian ticked off a few examples just the other day. American Airlines, Delta, United, all removed references to Taiwan from their corporate websites so as not to anger Beijing. And Hollywood, not too far from here, the epic center of American creative freedom and self-appointed arbiters of social justice, self censors even the most mildly unfavorable reference to China. This corporate acquiescence to the CCP happens all over the world, too. And how has this corporate fealty worked? Is it’s flattery rewarded? I’ll give you a quote from the speech that General Barr gave, Attorney General Barr. In a speech last week he said, “That the ultimate ambition of China’s rulers isn’t to trade with the United States, it is to raid the United States ” China ripped off our prized intellectual property and trade secrets causing millions of jobs, all across America. It sucked supply chains away from America and then a widget made of slave labor.
Mike Pompeo: (23:36)
It made the world’s key waterways less safe for international commerce. President Nixon once said he feared he had created a Frankenstein by opening the world to the CCP. And here we are. Now, people of good faith can debate why free nations allowed these bad things to happen for all these years. Perhaps we were naïve about China’s virulent strain of Communism, or triumphalist after our victory in the Cold War. Or cravenly capitalist or hoodwinked by Beijing’s stock of a peaceful rise.
Mike Pompeo: (24:13)
Whatever the reason, whatever the reason, today China is increasingly authoritarian at home and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else. And President Trump has said, “Enough.” I don’t think many people on either side of the aisle dispute the facts that I’ve laid out today. But even now, some are insisting that we preserve the model of dialogue for dialogue’s sake. Now to be clear, we’ll keep on talking but the conversations are different these days. I travel to Honolulu now just a few weeks back to meet with [inaudible 00:24:52]. It was the same old story. Plenty of words, but literally no offer to change any of the behaviors.
Mike Pompeo: (25:00)
Ying’s promises, like so many of the CCP made before him were empty. Hies expectations, I surmise, were that I’d cave to their demands because frankly this is what too many prior administrations have done. I didn’t, and President Trump will not either. As Ambassador Brian explained so well, we have to get in mind that the CCP regime is a Marxist/Leninist regime. General Secretary Xi Jinping is a true believer in a bankrupt, totalitarian ideology. Its this ideology that informs his decades long desire for global hegemony of Chinese communism.
Mike Pompeo: (25:43)
America can no longer ignore the fundamental political and ideological differences between our countries, just as the CCP has never ignored them. My experience in the House Intelligence Committee and then as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and my now two plus years as America’s Secretary of State have led me to this essential understanding. That the only way, the only way to truly change communist China is to act not on the basis of what Chinese leaders say, but how they behave. And you can see American policy responding to this conclusion.
Mike Pompeo: (26:19)
President Reagan said that he dealt with the Soviet Union on the basis of trust but verify. When it comes to the CCP, I say we must distrust and verify. We, we the freedom loving nations of the world must induce China to change just as President Nixon wanted. We must induce China to change in more creative and assertive ways because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity. We must start by changing how our people and our partners perceive the Chinese Communist Party. We have to tell the truth. We can’t treat this incarnation of China as a normal country just like any other. We know that trading with China is not like trading with a normal law abiding nation. Beijing threatens international agreements as suggestions, as conduits for global dominance. But by insisting on fair terms as our trade representative did when he secured our phase one trade deal, we can force China to reckon with its intellectual property theft and policies that have harmed American workers. We know too that doing business with a CCP backed company is not the same as doing business with say, a Canadian company. They don’t answer to independent boards and many of them are state sponsored and so have no need to pursue profits.
Mike Pompeo: (27:41)
A good example is Huawei. We stopped pretending Huawei is an innocent telecommunications company, is just showing up to make sure you can talk to your friends. We’ve called it what it is, a true national security threat, and we’ve taken action accordingly. We know too, that if our companies invest in China, they may wittingly or unwittingly support the communist party’s gross human rights violations.
Mike Pompeo: (28:03)
They may wittingly or unwittingly support the Communist Party’s gross human rights violations. Our Departments of Treasury and Commerce have now sanctioned, blacklisted Chinese leaders and entities that are harming and abusing the most basic rights of people all across the world. Several agencies have worked together on a business advisory to make sure that our CEOs are informed of how their supply chains are behaving inside of China.
Mike Pompeo: (28:27)
We know too that not all Chinese students and employees are just normal students and workers that are coming here to make a little bit of money and to garner themselves some knowledge. Too many of them come here to steal our intellectual property and to take this back to their country. The Department of Justice and other agencies have vigorously pursued punishment for these crimes. We know that the People’s Liberation Army is not a normal army, too. It’s purpose is to uphold the absolute rule of the Chinese Communist Party elites and expand the Chinese empire, not to protect the Chinese people. And so our Department of Defense has ramped up its efforts, freedom of navigation operations throughout the East and South China Seas and in the Taiwan Strait as well. And we’ve created a Space Force to help deter China from aggression on that final frontier.
Mike Pompeo: (29:17)
And so too, frankly, we’ve built out a new set of policies at the State Department dealing with China, pushing President Trump’s goals for fairness and reciprocity, to rewrite the imbalances that have grown over decades. Just this week we announced the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, because it was a hub of spying and intellectual property theft. We reversed two weeks ago eight years of cheek turning with respect to international law in the South China Sea. We called on China to conform its nuclear capabilities to the strategic realities of our time. And the State Department at every level all across the world has engaged with our Chinese counterparts simply to demand fairness and reciprocity.
Mike Pompeo: (30:09)
But our approach can’t just be about getting tough. That’s unlikely to achieve the outcome that we desire. We must also engage and empower the Chinese people, a dynamic, freedom-loving people who are completely distinct from the Chinese Communist Party. That begins with in-person diplomacy. I’ve met Chinese men and women of great talent and diligence wherever I go. I’ve met with Uigurs and ethnic Cossacks who escaped Xinjiang’s concentration camps. I’ve talked with Hong Kong’s democracy leaders, from Cardinal Zen to Jimmy Lai.
Mike Pompeo: (30:42)
Two days ago in London, I met with Hong Kong freedom fighter Nathan Law, and last month in my office, I heard the stories of Tiananmen Square survivors. One of them’s here today. Wang Dan was a key student who has never stopped fighting for freedom for the Chinese people. Mr. Wang, will you please stand so that we may recognize you? Also with us today is the father of the Chinese democracy movement, Wei Jingsheng. He spent decades in Chinese labor camps for his advocacy. Mr. Wei, will you please stand?
Mike Pompeo: (31:23)
You know, I grew up and served my time in the Army during the Cold War, and if there’s one thing I learned, Communists almost always lie. The biggest lie that they tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, depressed, and scared to speak out. Quite the contrary. The CCP fears the Chinese people’s honest opinions more than any foe, and save for losing their own grip on power, they have no reason to. Just think how much better off the world would be, not to mention the people inside of China, if we had been able to hear from the doctors in Wuhan and they’d been allowed to raise the alarm about the outbreak of a new and novel virus.
Mike Pompeo: (32:15)
For too many decades, our leaders have ignored, downplayed the words of great Chinese dissidents who warned us about the nature of the regime we’re facing, and we can’t ignore it any longer. They know as well as anyone that we can never go back to the status quo. But changing the CCP’s behavior cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom. It’s the furthest thing from easy, but I have faith we can do it. I have faith because we’ve done it before. We know how this goes. I have faith because the CCP is repeating some of the same mistakes that the Soviet Union made, alienating potential allies, breaking trust at home and abroad, rejecting property rights and predictable rule of law.
Mike Pompeo: (32:57)
I have faith. I have faith because of the awakening I see among other nations that know we can’t go back to the past, in the same way that we do here in America. I’ve heard this from Brussels to Sydney to Hanoi. And most of all, I have faith we can defend freedom because of the sweet appeal of freedom itself. Look at the Hong Kongers clamoring to emigrate abroad as the CCP tightens its grip on that proud city. They wave American flags. It’s true, there are differences. Unlike the Soviet Union, China is deeply integrated into the global economy. But Beijing is more dependent on us than we are on them.
Mike Pompeo: (33:41)
I reject the notion that we’re living in an age of inevitability, that some trap is preordained, that CCP supremacy is the future. Our approach isn’t destined to fail because America is in decline. As I said in Munich earlier this year, the free world is still winning. We just need to believe it and know it and be proud of it. People from all over the world still want to come to open societies. They come here to study, they come here to work, they come here to build a life for their families. They’re not desperate to settle in China.
Mike Pompeo: (34:18)
It’s time. It’s great to be here today. The timing is perfect. It’s time for free nations to act. Not every nation will approach China in the same way, nor should they. Every nation will have to come to its own understanding of how to protect its own sovereignty, how to protect its own economic prosperity, and how to protect its ideals from the tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party. But I call on every leader of every nation to start by doing what America has done, to simply insist on reciprocity, to insist on transparency and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a cadre of rulers that are far from homogenous, and these simple and powerful standards will achieve a great deal.
Mike Pompeo: (35:07)
For too long we let the CCP set the terms of engagement, but no longer. Free nations must set the tone. We must operate on the same principles. We have to draw common lines in the sand that cannot be washed away by the CCP’s bargains or their blandishments. Indeed, this is what the United States did recently when we rejected China’s unlawful claims in the South China Sea once and for all, as we’ve urged countries to become clean countries so that their citizens’ private information doesn’t end up in the hand of the Chinese Communist Party. We did it by setting standards.
Mike Pompeo: (35:42)
Now it’s true, it’s difficult for some small countries. They fear being picked off. Some of them for that reason simply don’t have the ability, the courage to stand with us for the moment. Indeed, we have a NATO ally of ours that hasn’t stood up in the way that it needs to with respect to Hong Kong, because they fear Beijing will restrict access to China’s market. This is the kind of timidity that will lead to historic failure, and we can’t repeat it. We cannot repeat the mistakes of these past years.
Mike Pompeo: (36:14)
The challenge of China demands exertion, energy from democracies, those in Europe, those in Africa, those in South America, and especially those in the Indo-Pacific Region. And if we don’t act now, ultimately the CCP will erode our freedoms and subvert the rules-based order that our societies have worked so hard to build. If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world.
Mike Pompeo: (36:49)
General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside of China forever, unless we allow it. Now, this isn’t about containment. Don’t buy that. It’s about a complex new challenge that we’ve never faced before. The USSR was closed off from the free world. Communist China is already within our borders. So we can’t face this challenge alone. The United Nations, NATO, the G7 countries, the G20, our combined economic, diplomatic, and military power is surely enough to meet this challenge if we direct it clearly and with great courage.
Mike Pompeo: (37:29)
Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies. We have the tools. I know we can do it. Now we need the will. To quote scripture, I ask, is our spirit willing but our flesh weak? If the free world doesn’t change, Communist China will surely change us. There can’t be a return to the past practices because they’re comfortable or because they’re convenient. Securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time, and America is perfectly positioned to lead it, because our founding principles give us that opportunity.
Mike Pompeo: (38:10)
As I explained in Philadelphia last week, standing staring at Independence Hall, our nation was founded on the premise that all human beings possess certain rights that are unalienable, and it’s our government’s job to secure those rights. It is a simple and powerful truth. It’s made us a beacon of freedom for people all around the world, including people inside of China. Indeed, Richard Nixon was right when he wrote in 1967 that the world cannot be safe until China changes. Now it’s up to us to heed his words. Today the danger is clear, and today the awakening is happening. Today the free world must respond. We can never go back to the past. May God bless each of you, may God bless the Chinese people, and may God bless the people of the United States of America. Thank you all.
Hugh Hewitt: (39:06)
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Please be seated. I’m Hugh Hewitt, the President of the Library, and Secretary Pompeo graciously invited some questions as I was listening. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Secretary, at the Nixon Library. My first question has to do with the context of the president’s visit in 1972. You mentioned the Soviet Union was isolated but it was dangerous. He went to the People’s Republic of China in 1972 to try and ally and combine interests with them against the Soviet Union. It was successful. Does Russia present an opportunity now to the United States to coax them into the battle to be relentlessly candid about the Chinese Communist Party?
Mike Pompeo: (39:59)
I do think there’s that opportunity. That opportunity is born of the natural relationship between Russia and China, and we can do something as well. There are places where we need to work with Russia. Today, or tomorrow I guess it is, our teams will be on the ground with the Russians, working on a strategic dialog to hopefully create the next generation of arms control agreements like Reagan did. It’s in our interest. It’s in Russia’s interest. We asked the Chinese to participate. They’ve declined to date. We hope they’ll change their mind. It’s these kind of things, these proliferation issues, these big strategic challenges, that if we work alongside Russia, I’m convinced we can make the world safer. So I think there is a place for us to work with the Russians to achieve a more likely outcome of peace, not only for the United States but for the world.
Hugh Hewitt: (40:47)
President Nixon also put quite a lot of store in personal relationships over many years with individuals. That can lead wrong. President Bush famously misjudged Vladimir Putin and said so afterwards. You have met President Xi often. Is the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party someone with whom we can deal on a transparent and reliable basis, in your opinion based on your personal diplomacy with him?
Mike Pompeo: (41:18)
The meetings that I’ve had and the meeting with the president we’ve had, they’ve been good frank conversations. He is the most powerful leader of China since Mao. He has also in many ways deinstitutionalized the Chinese Communist Party, thus giving him even more capacity and more power. But Hugh, I think the way to think about it is how I spoke about this today. It’s about actions. How one evaluates one’s counterparts sitting across the table from them is important to think about how you can find common understandings and make progress, but in the end it’s not about what someone says or the agreement that they sign, but are they prepared to lead, to do the things that they committed to? Are they prepared to fulfill their promises? And we watched as China walked away-
Mike Pompeo: (42:03)
Fulfill their promises. We watched this China walk away from their promises to the world on Hong Kong. General Secretary Xi promised President Obama in the Rose Garden in 2015 that he wouldn’t militarize the South China Sea. Google the South China Sea and arms. You’ll see another promise broken. In the end, from my perspective, it’s much more important to watch how leaders behave and how they lead than what it is you think when you have a chance to talk to them on the phone or meet them in person.
Hugh Hewitt: (42:27)
Mr. Secretary, you said, “This is not containment.” I heard that very clearly. I have read the three previous speeches by Ambassador O’Brien, Director Ray, Attorney General Barr. Now I listen to you very closely. It isn’t containment, but it is a fairly comprehensive, multidimensional, relentlessly objective candor. Is that dangerous in a world that’s not used to speaking clearly about delicate subjects?
Mike Pompeo: (42:56)
My experience, and I think President Trump’s experience too and his life as a businessman, is the best policy is always true candor: identifying the places that you have a real interest, making clear if there’s places where you don’t, and there’s things that you can work on alongside each other. I think the real danger comes from misunderstandings, and miscommunication, and the failure to be honest about the things that matter to you because others will move into that space and then conflict arises. I think the world is a heck of a lot safer when you have leaders who are prepared to be honest about the things that matter and prepare to talk about the things that our nation is prepared to do to secure those interests. You can reduce risk by these conversations so long as you’re honest about it. No, I don’t think it’s dangerous. I think it’s just the opposite of that.
Hugh Hewitt: (43:46)
You also said, and I’m sure the speech will be known as the Distrust, But Verify speech. When you distrust, but verify, that still premises verification is possible. It is still possible to do agreements and to verify them, correct?
Mike Pompeo: (44:02)
It is. Yes, you can still do it. Each nation’s got to be prepared for a certain amount of intrusiveness connected to that. It is not in the nature of Communist regimes to allow transparency inside of their country. It’s been done before. We had arms controls agreements with the Soviet Union, that we got verification that was sufficient to ensure that we protected American interests. I believe we can do it again. I hope that we can do this on these… I mean, the Chinese Communist Party has several hundred nuclear warheads. This is a serious global power. To the extent we can find common ground, a common set of understandings to reduce risk, but there’s ever a really bad day for the world, we ought to do it. It’s going to require agreement and verification.
Hugh Hewitt: (44:46)
Ambassador Richard Haass, who is now Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, said very recently… It may have been yesterday. It might have been this morning. I saw it this morning, preparing, quote, “Secretary Pompeo doesn’t speak of China, but of the Chinese Communist Party as if there were a China apart from the party. This is meant to antagonize and make diplomacy impossible, quite a stance for America’s Chief Diplomat to take unless his goal is to ensure diplomacy fails.” Is that your goal?
Mike Pompeo: (45:17)
Ah, goodness. Hard to begin… Here’s where I’ll begin. It’s a bit patronizing to the people of China to make such an assertion that they’re not free-thinking beings, that they’re not rational people who were given… I mean, they, too, were made in the image of God, right? They have all the capacity that anybody in the world does. To somehow think that we ought to ignore the voices of the people of China seems, to me, the wrong approach. It is true. The Chinese Communist Party is a one-party rule, I think. We will deal with the Chinese Communist Party as the head of state for China. We need to, and we need to engage in dialogue. It seems to me, we would dishonor ourselves and the people of China if we ignored them.
Hugh Hewitt: (46:06)
Now Ambassador O’Brien has referenced, put heavy emphasis on the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. It was almost quaint to hear that conversation again. It’s gone from our vocabulary. Does the American people, and especially American media, need to reacquaint itself with what Marxist–Leninist believe because the CCP genuinely does believe it?
Mike Pompeo: (46:27)
I always get in trouble with you when I comment on the media. I’ll say this much. For those of us who have lived, and seen, and observed, there are other Marxist–Leninist nations today as well. I’ve seen that they believe. They have an understanding, a central understanding of how people interact and how societies ought to interact. It is certainly the case today that the leadership in China believes that. We should acknowledge that, and we should make sure that we don’t, for a moment, think that they don’t believe it. That’s what Ambassador O’Brien’s speech was about. It was acknowledging that they believe it and recognizing that we have to respond in a way that reflects our understanding of the way they view the world.
Hugh Hewitt: (47:09)
Let’s not talk about the American media. I want to talk about the Chinese media for a moment. They are aggressive, to say the least. Right now, they are aggressively defending, for example, TikTok. A small question within a large question… Is TikTok capable of being weaponized? Is that an example of what’s going on? Generally, Chinese media has become far more aggressive than I’ve seen in 30 years, since I was at the Library the first time of watching it. Is that something you’ve noticed as well?
Mike Pompeo: (47:35)
Yes, they’re very aggressive. Two pieces to this… One, you hit upon. One is, I’ll describe it as their technology media. Without singling out any particular business, our view of these companies is… We’re neither for or against the company. We’re about making sure that we protect the information that belongs to each of you, your health records, your face, if it’s a facial recognition software, your address. All the things that you care that you want to make sure the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t have, we have a responsibility to make sure that the systems that you’re using don’t give them access to that. Whether it’s the efforts we made against WalWare or the work that we’re doing on other software firms, the American task is to protect the American people and their information.
Mike Pompeo: (48:21)
Second piece of this has to do with their, what I call the state-sponsored media of China, and their disinformation. You should know, this is where I am concerned about the American media too. These are state-sponsored media organizations that take their messaging from the Chinese Communist Party each day. When American institutions pick up those storylines and carry them forward, they are in fact propagating Chinese propaganda. We all ought to be wise to that. There was an editorial in the New York Times yesterday by someone who had a clear view that was antithetical to the American way of life. The New York Times ran it straight up without comment, forwarding, albeit in the opinion section, but propagating Chinese propaganda. That is certainly not instructive when they’re telling Senators from Arkansas they can’t simply talk about American freedom in that same media outlet.
Hugh Hewitt: (49:17)
You mentioned that a lot of corporate America, and you mentioned, specifically, Hollywood, have got deep intertwinement with the Chinese economy. I don’t want to talk about soft bar. I want to talk about soft appeasement. One of my favorite sports figures, LeBron James, falls silent when China comes up. In the new Top Gun movie, the Taiwan and Japanese patches are taking off Maverick’s jacket. They’re not going to be in Top Gun 2. They were in Top Gun 1. What do you say, not to those individuals, but to everyone who has an American spotlight, about their responsibility to be candid about the People’s Republic of China?
Mike Pompeo: (49:54)
Here’s our ask. Our ask is, if you claim that you care about human rights, or your social justice, or these things, if you make that part of your corporate theology, then you ought to be consistent. You can’t be consistent if you’re operating there in China without talking about and acknowledging what the Chinese Communist Party is doing in certain parts of their country, the oppression that’s taking place.
Mike Pompeo: (50:20)
Look, every business leader has got to make decisions for themselves. They’ve got to be able to live with the decisions that they make. You highlighted a few. I’d simply ask this. If you run an entity and the United States government were to tell you you couldn’t do something… Put a particular symbol in your movie, or put a particular name on your menu. If we were to tell you that, you’d say, “Oop, that’s not appropriate,” and it, of course, would not be appropriate. It seems to me that if you permit the Chinese Communist Party to limit you in that way, it’s got to be difficult for you to go home at night.
Hugh Hewitt: (50:54)
Two more questions, Mr. Secretary.
Hugh Hewitt: (50:58)
Because it is hot, and it is warm, and everyone out here has been in the sun for a while. You’re a West Point graduate, and as Governor Wilson noted, number one, so this might be tough for you. We are, like Athens was, a naval power. America is a naval power, and as like Sparta is, China is, a land power. Do we not have to change how we approach defense spending to put more emphasis on our naval resources than in our Army resources?
Mike Pompeo: (51:23)
Oh, that’s tough for an Army guy to say.
Hugh Hewitt: (51:26)
Mike Pompeo: (51:26)
You’re killing me. Look, I’ll leave to Secretary Esper, the details of this. Here’s what I can say. When President Trump set out our national security strategy early on in the administration, for the fourth time, we identified China in a way that was fundamentally different than we had done, this isn’t partisan, for decades. That was important because that was a signal to all of us, whether it’s the State Department or the Defense Department, that we needed to reorient our assets. Yes, you’ve seen the department of Esper begin to do that. These are big things to turn. These budgets are multi-year. It takes a while.
Mike Pompeo: (52:04)
If you look at how Secretary Esper and President Trump are positioning our military capabilities, not just the tactical, operational, strategic capabilities, but our cyber capabilities, our space capabilities… If you look at how we’re thinking about this and spending resources in year two, three, four, and five, I think you’ll see that our focus has shifted pretty dramatically. It’s not to say that our efforts to protect America from terrorism are behind us. We still have work to do there, but I think this great power challenge that presents itself is something that we have recognized. We begin to make sure that we allocate your money, our taxpayer resources that we have, to the appropriate ends to achieve American security.
Hugh Hewitt: (52:43)
My last question has to do with a former Secretary of State. He was also an Army man, George Marshall. He gave a speech in 1947 at your alma mater, Harvard, in which he called on all the nations of the world to recognize that the world was in crisis and to choose a side. He assured them in that famous address that if you chose the American side or you’re deserting Europe, you could count on America. As you make the appeal you did today, not just to Europe, where it’s relatively easy to be outspoken… Norway has found it not to be outspoken. To Taiwan, and Japan, and Vietnam, and all of the Australia, all of the nations of that region… Can they rely on America in the way that people opposing the Soviet Union could rely on George Marshall’s assurance in 1947?
Mike Pompeo: (53:30)
Mike Pompeo: (53:37)
The only thing I’ll say is, this language of, “Pick a side,” does make sense to me, but I think about picking a side differently than picking America or picking China. I think the sides, the division, the shirts and skins, if you will, is between freedom and tyranny. I think that’s the decision that we’re asking each of these nations to make. Here’s the good news of this. The good news is, it does take American leadership, often in these cases, to your point. They need to know that America will be there for them. I’ve seen the tide turn.
Mike Pompeo: (54:09)
In just these three and a half years of our administration, I’ve watched other nations have less timidity, become more prepared to stand up for their freedoms, and for the freedoms of their people. We don’t ask them to do this for America. We ask them to do it for their country, and for their nation, the freedom, and the independence, and to protect the rights of their people. When we do that, and we tell them that America will be there, I’m very confident in the end that this is a world that with the hard work applied, we’ll become one that is governed by rules-based order and the freedom of the American people will be secured.
Hugh Hewitt: (54:43)
Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us here today.
Mike Pompeo: (54:56)
Hugh Hewitt: (54:56)
Please chime in. Thank you, Secretary.
Mike Pompeo: (54:56)
Thank you, all. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (54:56)
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for attending this historic address with Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.