Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday denounced Chinese Communist Party propaganda aimed at fueling U.S. civil unrest and seeking to further divide Americans.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s callous exploitation of the tragic death of George Floyd to justify its authoritarian denial of basic human dignity exposes its true colors yet again,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.
“As with dictatorships throughout history, no lie is too obscene, so long as it serves the party’s lust for power. This laughable propaganda should not fool anyone.”
Chinese diplomats and state-run media outlets in recent weeks have disseminated a steady stream of reports criticizing the U.S. government and Trump administration. Officials said the Chinese propaganda attacks are aimed at fueling racial and political tensions.
The official Xinhua news agency and Global Times, the state-run hardline Communist Party newspaper, sent out numerous stories criticizing the Trump administration for its policies toward minorities.
The propaganda is coming from the Chinese government that itself is under fire for imprisoning more than 1 million Uighurs in western China, along with other human rights abuses.
Mr. Pompeo said in recent days Beijing “showcased its continuing contempt for the truth and scorn for law.”
“The CCP’s propaganda efforts – seeking to conflate the United States’ actions in the wake of the death of George Floyd with the CCP’s continued denial of basic human rights and freedom – should be seen for the fraud that they are,” he said.
“During the best of times, the PRC ruthlessly imposes communism,” he said. “Amid the most difficult challenges, the United States secures freedom.”
Mr. Pompeo noted the stark contrast between the United States and communist-ruled China.
“In China, when a church burns, the attack was almost certainly directed by the CCP,” he said, using the acronym for Chinese Communist Party.
“In America, when a church burns, the arsonists are punished by the government, and it is the government that brings fire trucks, water, aid, and comfort to the faithful.”
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the officially-atheist government has cracked down on unofficial house churches that are frequently bulldozed to prevent gatherings of worshipers.
Mr. Pompeo also said that peaceful protesters in China’s Tiananmen Square or in Hong Kong get clubbed by armed militiamen for simply speaking out, and reporters who cover the dissent are sentenced to long prison terms.
In the United States, American law enforcement authorities bring rogue officer to justice. Peaceful protests are welcomed while looting and violence are shut down.
“Our free press covers events wall to wall, for all the world to see,” he said.
Also, doctors and journalists in China who warned of the dangers of the new coronavirus outbreak were silenced and imprisoned. The Beijing government also lied about death totals and the extent of the disease outbreak, Mr. Pompeo said.
“In the United States, we value life and build transparent systems to treat, cure, and underwrite – more than any other nation – pandemic solutions for the globe,” he added.
Chinese authorities imprison people who diverge from CCP ideology or place them in re-education camps, the secretary said.
The secretary of state’s comment provide the first U.S. government acknowledgement that China is among the foreign actors seeking to further inflame racial tensions in the United States.
Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier this week that he had evidence that among the protesters around the country there are “”foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray also said foreign elements had “set out to sow discord and upheaval.”
A U.S. official said videos posted online recently showed what appeared to be Chinese embassy and consulates personnel taking a direct role in riots in Washington and California.
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Mike Pompeo rejects China ‘appeasement’ as U.S. counters Beijing military activities
The United States is pushing back against stepped-up Chinese military activities near Taiwan and in the South China Sea as a means of deterring a conflict with Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says. China in recent days has conducted large-scale military exercises and provocative jet flights near Taiwan in what China’s state media say…
The United States is pushing back against stepped-up Chinese military activities near Taiwan and in the South China Sea as a means of deterring a conflict with Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.
China in recent days has conducted large-scale military exercises and provocative jet flights near Taiwan in what China’s state media say is a response to a visit to the island by a senior State Department official last week. China’s military fired four missiles into the South China Sea last week, and the People’s Liberation Army this week posted a video online showing a simulated Chinese bombing strike on the American territory of Guam.
Asked about the growing tensions in an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Pompeo blamed past policies that he said ignored threatening Chinese activities. He hinted that Washington was also ready to expand the offensive against Chinese internet companies operating in the U.S. and will seek to completely shut down a network of Chinese cultural centers in the U.S. called Confucius Institutes as soon as the end of this year.
“What we have done for decades is we have permitted the Chinese Communist Party to engage in threatening or disruptive behavior, whether that is predatory economic practices and the like, and they have continued to expand their capacity and their footprint,” he said. “The biggest risk with regard to the Chinese Communist Party is appeasement.”
President Trump, he added, has said, “Enough. We’re not going to let that happen anymore.’”
The secretary of state said in the interview that leaders in Beijing need to recognize the Trump administration’s seriousness and Mr. Trump’s commitment in pushing back against Chinese expansionism. “We watch these military activities, and we prepare,” Mr. Pompeo said. “President Trump’s been clear: We don’t want conflict with China. They say they don’t want conflict with us as well. We hope they’ll reduce what they’re doing to create this tension.”
The increase in saber-rattling and threatening rhetoric from China has worried some U.S. officials, who see the activities as possible signs that Beijing is preparing for some type of military action. The state-run Global Times, viewed as China’s most xenophobic state-controlled outlet, warned in an editorial this week that the series of military exercises near Taiwan could be a prelude to an attack on the island.
The United States is obligated to defend Taiwan from mainland attack under terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which also calls for selling defensive weapons to Taiwan.
The Trump administration recently formalized the long-delayed sale of 66 new F-16 jets to Taiwan in a deal worth $8 billion. Additional weapons sales to Taiwan reportedly will include an advanced attack missile called the Stand-Off Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response, or SLAM-ER, an air-launched cruise missile capable of hitting targets in China.
Standing for freedom
Mr. Pompeo said the United States is determined to counter Chinese activities through economic, diplomatic and military responses.
“We’ve engaged our freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere in ways that no administration has done before,” he said.
“We’re going to stand up for freedom, for the American right to make sure we transit goods wherever we need to in international waterways. Those are the things that President Trump has mandated, and I hope the Chinese Communist Party will see them for what they are: a clear enunciation of America’s underlying rights and our willingness to help build out a coalition to protect the free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Mr. Pompeo said the administration’s arms sales to Taiwan, which China considers part of its country and has vowed to reclaim, are permitted under the Taiwan Relations Act.
“We’re doing these things in a way that makes clear that the obligations that both countries, China and the United States, undertook, the commitments we made to each other, the promises that we made to each other, will be lived up to,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo said one of the challenges in deterring China is that Beijing “has never been held to account for broken promises.”
“Now we’re seeing those broken promises continue,” he said. “They promised President Obama they wouldn’t arm the South China Sea. They did so. They promised Hong Kong they would be allowed to have a different system from mainland for 50 years and they’ve now broken that promise. The list goes on.”
U.S. policy toward China is aimed at pressing the Chinese Communist Party to abide by its promises and commitments. “That goes for Taiwan as well,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo also weighed in on the controversy over the recent presidential order banning two popular Chinese apps, TikTok and WeChat, over concerns that Chinese intelligence uses the software to compile personal data on Americans and others. The problem is that China can obtain Americans’ data from the internet when it travels through networks owned by Chinese companies.
All businesses in China are required to turn over all information to “the Chinese national security apparatus,” Mr. Pompeo said.
In addition to WeChat, the Chinese messaging and financial transaction service, the U.S. government is looking at a number of Chinese applications to restrict.
“Our mission set is not to deny Chinese commercial activities, but rather to protect America’s national security and Americans’ private information,” Mr. Pompeo said.
A federal judge in California issued an order temporarily preventing the administration from banning WeChat. TikTok, a video-sharing site that is popular with younger internet users, is negotiating a possible partial sale to U.S. companies under pressure from the administration.
On WeChat, Mr. Pompeo said: “We think that they got the law wrong, and we’re hopeful that this big international security matter will not be decided in court. This is something the president has the full authority to do, and we hope that we will ultimately prevail there.”
Americans need to know that communicating and interacting online will not result in their information being stolen by Chinese intelligence services, he added.
Targeting Confucius Institutes
On China’s use of a network of Confucius Institutes on U.S. campuses for covert influence operations, Mr. Pompeo said the administration is working to shut down the institutes, possibly as soon as the end of the year.
“We began by righting what the previous administration had done wrong by calling out these institutions and making it known to the schools and institutions with which they were affiliated the risks that they present,” he said.
As a result of the effort, a number of the more than 100 Confucius Institutes were shuttered.
“We are looking at other tools,” Mr. Pompeo said. “The president is reviewing other options to get the certainty around not being influenced by these Confucius Institutes.”
The institutes present a false “happy front,” Mr. Pompeo said, by claiming to just teach Mandarin or Chinese culture. However, the institutes have been used for influence operations and have been connected by the Justice Department in at least one case to illegal Chinese technology talent recruitment programs, he said.
“This administration is not going to tolerate that,” Mr. Pompeo said.
The administration’s recent decision to block visas for about 1,000 students linked to a Chinese military-civilian “fusion program” and the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston were examples, he said.
Mr. Pompeo also warned that Chinese influence in the upcoming presidential election is “a real challenge.”
Attorney General William Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe have warned that China, along with Russia and Iran, are trying to influence the U.S. vote.
“The Chinese Communist Party will operate differently than other countries in trying to affect the outcome of our election,” Mr. Pompeo said, “but they are no less serious in their intention to have an impact, to exert their influence, to have an outcome that’s consistent with China’s goals and not those of the voters here in the United States.”
Vice President Mike Pence said in 2018 that China conducted an unprecedented effort to interfere in that year’s election and was targeting the president this year. “China wants a different American president,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo said he is confident that the U.S. government will protect the election and deliver a free, fair, secure election in November.
“I’m confident that we will deliver that, but the Chinese intent is certainly to weigh in on our election.”
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Mike Pompeo RNC speech is breach of diplomatic protocol, Democrats say
Top Democrats said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday address to the Republican National Convention while on an official trip to the Middle East was a gross breach of diplomatic protocol and another example of President Trump wrongly mixing politics with the machinery of government. Mr. Trump is slated to accept the Republican nomination on…
Top Democrats said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday address to the Republican National Convention while on an official trip to the Middle East was a gross breach of diplomatic protocol and another example of President Trump wrongly mixing politics with the machinery of government.
Mr. Trump is slated to accept the Republican nomination on Thursday from the White House, while Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak Wednesday from Fort McHenry, the historic National Park Service site in Baltimore.
First lady Melania Trump will speak Tuesday from the newly revamped White House Rose Garden.
“It’s just unfortunate that this president seems like from the venues he’s choosing … to be trampling upon the ideas that there are certain places that are sacrosanct and should not be used for politics and a political convention in this way,” said Sen. Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat.
Mr. Pompeo will deliver an address videotaped in Jerusalem, in which he will tout some of Mr. Trump’s first-term foreign policy moves and say the president has “led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world” to secure peace and “keep us safe and our freedoms intact,” according to speech excerpts.
The State Department said Mr. Pompeo was acting entirely in his personal capacity, but Democrats said that was a stretch for a secretary of state while traveling overseas.
“For him to do this, I think, further shows that this administration is willing to politicize the state of Israel and use it as a political wedge as opposed to a rallying cry for us to come together and continue our traditions of bipartisan support for the state of Israel,” Mr. Booker told reporters.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said the speech violates Mr. Pompeo’s own directive last month warning State Department employees against appearing at partisan political events.
“It is important to remember that in order to avoid any confusion or misperception in this regard, the department’s longstanding policy is that U.S. citizen employees and family members may not engage in partisan political activity while posted or on [duty] abroad, even on personal time,” said the cable, which was signed by Mr. Pompeo.
“But, once again, the rules go out the window for Secretary Pompeo when they get in the way of serving his political interests and Donald Trump,” said Mr. Engel, New York Democrat.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and chairman of a foreign affairs oversight subcommittee, opened an investigation Tuesday into Mr. Pompeo’s speech and demanded that the State Department answer questions and provide records tied to Mr. Pompeo’s trip.
Mr. Pompeo is on an official trip to Israel, Sudan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The State Department said taxpayer money was not used to fund the speech.
Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden’s campaign wasn’t buying it.
“The fact that a sitting secretary of state would give a speech like this is flat-out disgraceful,” said campaign spokesman Bill Russo. “It is an abuse of taxpayer money. This is part of, apparently, official travel even if it is his personal time. It’s taxpayer money that got him there. It’s taxpayer money that’s paying for his protection. There are certainly taxpayer-funded staff on the ground.”
Before Mr. Pompeo, no sitting secretary of state in modern history had delivered a featured address for a major party’s national convention.
In the recent past, former secretaries Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice timed official travel to coincide with party conventions, ensuring they would have a reason to be elsewhere.
“As secretary of state, I am obliged not to participate in any way, shape, fashion, or form in parochial, political debates,” Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, said in 2004 ahead of the Republican convention. “I have to take no sides in the matter.”
George Shultz, former President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, did appear at Republicans’ 1988 convention but stayed on the sidelines.
P.J. Crowley, who served as an assistant secretary of state for public affairs during the Obama administration, said there’s no issue if Mr. Pompeo wants to lock arms with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hail the recent breakthrough in relations with the UAE.
“But when a sitting secretary of state tapes a video to be played at the Republican National Convention, that crosses a significant line,” Mr. Crowley said.
He worked for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992 and then-Defense Secretary William Perry in 1996, and both men “scrupulously avoided” any appearance of partisan political activity during those years.
“Both were drawn into public discussions of issues that were part of the campaign,” he said. “But neither one became active participants in the campaign. This is very different.”
Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman and CIA director, has been mentioned as a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender. He recently made a trip to Iowa, site of the caucuses that kick off the presidential primary season.
Some Republicans had pushed him to run for Kansas’s open Senate seat this year, but he declined those overtures.
Democrats complain that Mr. Trump is turning the apparatus of government into a campaign tool.
On Monday, Mr. Trump broadcast during the GOP convention from inside the White House, appearing with “frontline” COVID-19 workers and hostages who have returned to the United States during his time in office.
Mr. Trump took a shot at Democrats in the ongoing standoff over the Postal Service as he thanked a postal worker in one video.
“We’re not getting rid of our postal workers, you know? They like to sort of put that out there,” the president said. “If anyone does, it’s the Democrats — not the Republicans.”
The Hatch Act generally forbids federal employees from engaging in politics on the taxpayer’s dime, and while the law doesn’t apply to Mr. Trump or Mr. Pence, it does apply to other White House personnel.
A ruling by the Office of Special Counsel, which polices the Hatch Act, said Mr. Trump could speak from the White House, as long as certain restrictions were observed.
And Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman and former press secretary for the president, said White House lawyers have provided extensive guidelines on what is allowed for speeches there.
“It’s being very, very strictly adhered to,” Ms. Grisham said.
The coronavirus pandemic upended the Republican Party’s plans to hold a full convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Democrats also canceled their convention in Milwaukee, with Mr. Biden delivering his speech from the Chase Center near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Democrats have faced complaints they ran afoul of federal restrictions on political activity during the roll call vote to nominate Mr. Biden. Members of the armed forces stood in the background in their uniforms while American Samoa cast its votes over livestream.
The Democratic National Committee called it an “oversight.” The Army is investigating.
Several videos also featured Beau Biden, the late son of Mr. Biden who served in the Army, though images of the younger Biden in his military gear were accompanied by disclaimers that the visuals did not constitute any endorsement from the military or Defense Department.
• Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.
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Pompeo in Sudan, top US official to visit since uprising
CAIRO (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Sudan on Tuesday, the top U.S. official to visit the African country since last year’s ouster of its autocratic leader, Omar al-Bashir. Pompeo’s visit on Tuesday is meant to discuss the normalization of ties between Sudan and Israel and also show U.S. support for…
CAIRO (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Sudan on Tuesday, the top U.S. official to visit the African country since last year’s ouster of its autocratic leader, Omar al-Bashir.
Pompeo’s visit on Tuesday is meant to discuss the normalization of ties between Sudan and Israel and also show U.S. support for the country’s fragile transition to democracy.
Pompeo is also the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the African county since 2005, when Condoleezza Rice visited. Pompeo was also to discuss the removal of Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Pompeo arrived from Israel, and while he was still airborne, he tweeted: “Happy to announce that we are on the FIRST official NONSTOP flight from Israel to Sudan!”
Pompeo’s flight was the first direct trip between Tel Aviv to Khartoum. He was in Israel Monday, the first stop of his multi-country tour in the region that came following the Aug. 13 agreement by Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic ties.
He is to meet with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The State Department had said ahead of the tour that Pompeo would discuss “continued U.S. support for the civilian-led transitional government and express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship.”
In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Gen. Burhan, during a trip to Uganda where they pledged to pursue normalization. The meeting was held secretly and only announced after it happened.
At the time of the Burhan-Netanyahu meeting, the Sudanese military said the talks with Israel were an effort to help end Sudan’s status as an international pariah state.
Following a meeting with Hamdok on Monday, a coalition representing the protesters who helped topple al-Bashir last year, said in a statement that the transitional government “has no mandate” to decide on normalizing ties with Israel.
The coalition, known as Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, also “emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to their land and the right of free and dignified life,” the statement said.
Sudan hosted the landmark Arab conference after the 1967 Mideast war where eight Arab countries approved the “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.
But in recent years those hostilities have softened, and both countries have expressed readiness to normalize relations.
Sudan is now on a fragile path to democracy after the popular uprising led the military to overthrow al-Bashir in April 2019. A military-civilian government now rules the country, with elections deemed possible in late 2022.
The transitional authorities are desperate to lift sanctions linked to its listing by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror. That would be a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its battered economy that has plunged in recent months, threatening to destabilize the political transition.
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