As the relationship between the two countries continue to fray, Pompeo lashed Chinese authorities for oppressing their people, stealing American intellectual property, hiding the origins of the coronavirus, and detaining minority groups such as the indigenous Uyghurs.
“Communists almost always lie. The biggest lie that they tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, oppressed and scared to speak out,” Pompeo said at the Nixon Library in California.
Nixon was the first president to resume “harmonious” relations with China in a 1972 visit to the communist nation, after an extended period of diplomatic isolation.
“For too many decades, our leaders have ignored or downplayed the words of brave Chinese dissidents who have warned us about the nature of the regime we’re facing. We can’t ignore it any longer,” the Secretary of State continued.
“I call on every leader of every nation to start doing what America has done — to simply insist on reciprocity, to insist on transparency, and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
The backdrop to Pompeo’s speech is an escalating cold war between the US and China which culminated this week in the arrest of two Chinese diplomats charged with trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine research.
The State Department ordered China’s Communist Party shutter the Houston consulate where the pair worked, which Pompeo dubbed a “hub of spying,” but Beijing has refused.
Pompeo said traditional diplomacy had failed to engage the shadowy regime and directly hit Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a danger to the US people.
“General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside China forever unless we allow it,” he told the crowd.
Pompeo’s merciless speech is the latest salvo from a senior member of the Trump administration which has become increasingly hawkish on China as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage and infect millions of Americans.
The former CIA director railed against China’s “bankrupt, totalitarian ideology” but at the same time spoke of needing to empower the Chinese people.
“We must also engage and empower the Chinese people, a dynamic, freedom-loving people who are completely distinct from the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.