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QUESTION: Joining me right now with his reaction and the state of affairs right now between the U.S. and China is U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, it’s great to have you this morning. Thanks very much for being here.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, it’s great to be with you this morning on this important topic.

QUESTION: So I want to start with the U.S. sanctioning the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corporation and two of its officials for their connection to the human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Tell us about this company, its reach, why these sanctions are important in terms of moving the needle on what’s taking place.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the risk to the people in that region has been great. I’ve talked about this. This is the greatest human rights violation of this century to date. And what we have attempted to do is make clear to China, if you want to participate on the world stage, you can’t engage in behavior like this. So we’ve begun to impose sanctions on the individuals and businesses involved in this.

The most recent set of sanctions put out by the Department of Treasury will put the businesses operating there on notice they’ve got to change their behavior, they’ve got to stop using slave labor, they’ve got to stop participating in these systems that have been connected to forced sterilizations, forced abortions. These are terrible, terrible things that are taking place there, and we’re going to impose real costs on those businesses.

This company is involved in the cotton trade and so has deep connectivity to Western businesses, including those in the United States. And we’ve been very clear: We’ve told U.S. businesses to take a real, deep look into their supply chains. I don’t think companies – some brand names here in America – want to be connected to what’s taking place there.

QUESTION: Well, we mentioned the NBA. We were showing video as you were talking. This video was shot in 2018, but it clearly shows the Uyghurs being lined up, blindfolded in some cases, being taken somewhere. Do American companies not understand what has taken place here; for example, the NBA, other companies that want to do a deal? I want to get to Microsoft wanting to acquire TikTok in a moment. But do you think corporations are getting the national security issues that you have laid out over the last couple of years?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I think they are starting to become more aware of it, to be awakened to the challenges this presents to their brand, to their company, to their supply chain. I think they’re starting to see that.

But as we’ve discussed before, I think all across the world for an awful long time we didn’t recognize the threats posed to freedom, the authoritarian nature of the regime there, and so we – we let things go on that we shouldn’t. I am very hopeful these businesses will evaluate what’s going on and then make the right decisions for their businesses. I am confident that they will.

QUESTION: We have news this morning that Microsoft has put on pause its plans to acquire TikTok, the U.S. operations of this video-sharing app. Peter Navarro was with us last week on this program. Here’s what he said about TikTok. I’ve got get your take on this very popular app for young people. Here’s Peter Navarro:

“What the American people have to understand is all the data that goes into those mobile apps that kids have so much fun with and seem so convenient, it goes right to servers in China, right to the Chinese military, the Chinese Communist Party, and the agencies which want to steal our intellectual property. Those apps can be used to steal personal and financial information, for blackmail and extortion. They can used to steal business intellectual property and proprietary secrets.”

What happened with TikTok, Secretary?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, here’s what I hope that the American people will come to recognize: These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat – there are countless more – as Peter Navarro said, are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus. It could be their facial recognition pattern. It could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to. Those are the issues that President Trump has made clear we’re going to take care of. These are true national security issues. They are true privacy issues for the American people.

And for a long time, a long time, the United States just said, well goodness, if we’re having fun with it or if a company can make money off of it, we’re going to permit that to happen. President Trump has said enough and we’re going to fix it. And so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.

QUESTION: I mean, even if Microsoft were to acquire the U.S. assets of TikTok, can you really believe that China’s surveillance is gone from U.S. operations of TikTok?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I promise you, the President, when he makes his decision, will make sure that everything we have done drives us as close to zero risk for the American people. That’s the mission set that he laid out for all of us when we get – we began to evaluate this now several months back. We’re closing in on a solution, and I think you’ll see the President’s announcement shortly.

QUESTION: Secretary, I want to ask you about FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking to the Senate Intel Committee in the last week, and he warned about China’s increased capability to interfere in U.S. elections, saying that – these were classified hearings at the Senate Intel Committee to this week – saying that China has developed an ability to interfere with local elections and target members of Congress to influence China policy. What can you tell us?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Maria, I don’t want to say much more than you just described there. The rest of the information is classified. But make no mistake about it – I talked about this back in February to the National Governors Association – the Chinese Communist Party – and you saw this with our closure of the consulate in Houston – is running espionage operations inside the United States and attempting deep-influence targeting of American business leaders, of American congressmen, of city council members. We saw it happen up to a state senator in Wisconsin.

This is a deep effort to conduct influence operations to undermine American democracy and put our nation at risk. This administration, President Trump – for the first time – has said this is enough of this, we’re going to fix this, and has given us all the guidance. And you’ve seen us act on it, whether it was what we did to the consulate with Houston; you saw the FBI indict several PLA members who were studying here in the United States engaged in activity that was clearly unlawful. We’re taking seriously this threat. We’re going to protect the American people from these Chinese influence operations.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, this week Dianne Feinstein praised China as a respectable nation, she said. Why do some in Congress not say the same thing that you’ve been saying, that this administration has been communicating? There doesn’t seem to be an all-out agreement within the Congress on this?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I saw the statement from Senator Feinstein. I found it perplexing. I saw statements from senior American CEOs of the big tech companies this week say they hadn’t heard or seen about intellectual property theft in the United States. That’s crazy talk.

Here’s the good news. The good news is we are getting nearly every member of Congress aligned along the administration’s policies on China. When we voted about Hong Kong freedom, there were over 400 votes in the House and nearly every vote in the Senate; the same with respect to what’s taking place in western China, the human rights violations.

I think the tide is turning. I think not only here in the United States but all across the world the threat from the Chinese Communist Party is becoming clearer and clearer, and nations that are likeminded all across the world are beginning to come together to rebalance, to push back against this, to protect our freedom and democracy.

I talked at the Nixon Library about this being a battle not between the United States and China but between authoritarianism and freedom. That’s the fight the world needs to be engaged in, and I hope we get every member of Congress onboard on the side of the freedom.

QUESTION: I mean, I was particularly struck by Dianne Feinstein, because didn’t she have a driver for 20 years that we ended up finding out was a Chinese spy?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We did. You’ll recall she meets with some frequency with Foreign Minister Zarif there, too. There’s something not quite right.


SECRETARY POMPEO: I mean, and this is not —

QUESTION: Well, we’ll certainly keep watching that. Yes.

SECRETARY POMPEO: This is not consistent with America’s national security in either case. These are adversaries that intend harm for the citizens of her state of California, and I wish that she would not engage in this kind of rhetoric and these kind of meetings that undermine Americans’ efforts.

QUESTION: Yeah, there seems to be a new angle here, and that is the Chinese communist government trying to compromise certain Democrat members of Congress who are against President Trump. We’ll keep watching that.

I want to ask you about how China is using the new security law and what has taken place in Hong Kong now, Secretary, because Hong Kong is now delaying election – its election for a year. They’re talking about COVID-19 being the issue. Your reaction.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, COVID-19 is not the reason for the delay in the election. The reason for the delay – there was scheduled to be an election in Hong Kong on September 6th. The reason for the delay is that the Chinese Communist Party candidates would be crushed, and the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong would prevail, and the leadership in Beijing simply can’t permit that to happen.

Look, this is part of what we’re seeing happen all across the threat from the Chinese Communist Party: increased denial of freedom for people in their own country; and then extending that now to people outside of their country. That national security law can be applied to people all across the world. It has extraterritorial provisions in it saying that someone who so much as speaks against freedom in Hong Kong[1] has violated the national security law and is under threat from the Chinese Communist Party. This is a new and increased scope, and it’s the kind of thing we’ve seen as the direction of travel from the Chinese Communist Party under General Secretary Xi.

QUESTION: So, I mean, do you expect an election ever in Hong Kong? I mean, in that speech you referred to at the Nixon Library, you said that we are seeing the tide turn. I mean, you just said that a lot of our allies understand the threat. Do you believe the U.S. has alliances here? I mean, we know that India has banned those 59 apps. We know that the UK has come around in terms of not using Huawei for its 5G. We know what’s happened in the South China Sea. What about Western Europe? What about Spain and Germany and Italy? Do you feel you’ve got the support from the rest of the world?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, it’s better than it was six months and increasing. I think the whole world sees this. It’s not because America asks these countries to engage in activity that pushes back against the Chinese Communist Party that they ought to do it. They ought to do it because it’s in their nation’s sovereign best interest to do so. And we’re seeing it, whether it’s in the Czech Republic or in Malaysia, in Vietnam.


SECRETARY POMPEO: All across the world countries are coming to understand the challenges that the Chinese Communist Party presents and that the United States will be there, that the United States will be there to lead this push to ensure that the next century remains a free and democratic century, not one that is governed by the rules of the road laid down by this communist regime.

QUESTION: Secretary, I want to move on to Iran because now we understand that Beijing is set to be in the final stages of approving a $400 billion economic and security deal with Tehran. In addition to the massive infrastructure investments, Forbes is reporting that this agreement is closer cooperation on defense and intelligence sharing. What are the implications, Secretary?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that regimes that don’t respect freedom at home and foment national security problems abroad would want to join hands. We will be sure to enforce all the provisions we have, all the sanctions we have on the Islamic Republic of Iran, applied to the Chinese Communist Party and their businesses and state-owned enterprises as well.

And I think countries in the Middle East should see this for what it is as well. China’s entry into Iran will destabilize the Middle East. It’ll put Israel at risk. It’ll put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates at risk as well. Iran remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and to have access to weapons systems and commerce and money flowing from the Chinese Communist Party only compounds that risk for that region.

QUESTION: Should we expect new sanctions against Iran?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we filed some new sanctions just this Friday. We expanded their – sanctions on their metals programs. And then in October we have a significant provision of the JCPOA that expires, the first major provision to expire. It’ll allow the Chinese and the Russians to sell weapons systems to Iran and then allow Iran to sell those weapons systems and other arms around the world as well.

The United States has been working since 2018 to try and stop this provision from expiring and in the United Nations in just the next handful of days will present a Security Council resolution aimed at doing just that. I hope the whole world can understand that allowing Iran to buy and sell weapons is really, really dangerous.

QUESTION: Yes, of course. Secretary, it’s good to see you this morning. Thanks very much for being here.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Maria. Thank you.

[1] It has extraterritorial provisions in it saying that someone who so much as speaks against the denial of freedom in Hong Kong has violated the national security law and is under threat from the Chinese Communist Party.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future