By David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday stepped up recent U.S. rhetoric targeting China’s ruling Communist Party, saying it was focused on international domination and needed to be confronted.
Pompeo made the remarks even as the Trump administration said it still expected to sign the first phase of deal to end a damaging trade war with Beijing next month, despite Chile’s withdrawal on Wednesday as the host of an APEC summit where U.S. officials had hoped this would happen.
Echoing a speech last week by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attacking China’s record on human rights, trade and methods to expand its global influence, Pompeo said the United States had long cherished its friendship with the Chinese people, but added:
“The Communist government in China today is not the same as the people of China. They are reaching for and using methods that have created challenges for the United States and for the world and we collectively, all of us, need to confront these challenges … head on.”
“It is no longer realistic to ignore the fundamental differences between our two systems, and the impact that … the differences in those systems have on American national security,” Pompeo said in an address to a gala dinner in New York of the conservative Hudson Institute think tank.
He said President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, had sounded the alarm about China from his very first day in office.
“Today, we’re finally realizing the degree to which the Communist Party is truly hostile to the United States and our values … and we are able to do this because of the leadership of President Trump.”
Pompeo said he would deliver a series of speeches in coming months on the competing ideologies and values, including on global influence campaigns by the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence agencies and “unfair and predatory” economic practices by Beijing.
“The Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist-Leninist Party focused on a ‘struggle’ and international domination – we need only listen to the words of their leaders,” he said.
Pompeo said he would also address the build-up of China’s military capabilities “that far exceed what they would need for self defence.”
Pompeo said the United States was not seeking confrontation with China and wanted to see a transparent, competitive market-driven system there that was mutually beneficial. He said the first steps towards that could be seen in phase one of the trade deal, which was close to being signed.
“I am optimistic that we will get there. It’s a good thing, a place that we can work together,” he said. “I think this will show that there is common ground to be had.”
On Tuesday, China’s ambassador to the United Nations hit back at criticism of Beijing’s human rights record, saying it was not “helpful” for trade talks between Beijing and Washington.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Sandra Maler)