Secretary of State Michael Pompeo warned lawmakers that the threat from the Chinese Communist Party is “inside the gates” during a meeting with House Republican lawmakers on Friday.
Pompeo told members of the conservative Republican Study Committee that as a former lawmaker, he is aware of the threat posed by China but that he did not appreciate “the scope and the scale and the nature” of how close the threat is until he became Central Intelligence Agency director.
“This fight is inside the gates today … Containing where they are today leaves them in our institutions of higher learning. It leaves them in our high schools; it leaves them in our PTA groups. It leaves them inside our city councils and our state legislatures all across America. This is a deep effort that has been going on for 50 years. Republicans and Democrats alike refuse to deal with it, and we started to and did,” he said.
“We not only got it right, and frankly, I think there is some bipartisan basis, I hope, that we can continue to get this right,” he added.
He noted that the Trump administration worked successfully to build an “enormous coalition” with the Indians, Australians, Japanese, the South Koreans, and in some parts of Europe to counter China. He said 120 international telecommunications companies have now forsworn any Chinese technology in their system.
“This is about the West and our ideas. This is not the United States versus China, and we have to get this right, and we need partners and friends to do it,” he said.
He added, “A substantial number of international businesses have seen the political risk in China as different from what they thought it was three or four years ago. … This is a place that has fundamentally shifted under Xi Jinping in a way that is different from the Chinese Communist Party of even 20 years ago.”
He acknowledged to lawmakers that it would be a financial cost to push back against the Chinese communist regime but urged them to be upfront with constituents on the risks of continuing to do business with China.
“You all need to remind everyone that if your kids and grandkids desire to live in a Western society, one that is not dominated by Chinese telecommunications infrastructure, and Chinese ideas and philosophies that come from the East, that are very different from the rule of law and basic human dignity that we have, then there’s going to be some cost attached to that,” he said.
“It’s not free to push back. There’s a reason we didn’t push back for 50 years,” he said. “For 50 years we told people, ‘you could have it all. You can get cheap stuff. You can outsource our jobs to these other places. We can allow them to do this; don’t worry [about] the leverage they gain from having these enormous supply chains. By the way, put TikTok on your phone, no worries.'”
“We didn’t articulate for them that you put TikTok on your phone and your children’s most private personal information is in the hands of some really really bad actors that mean really ill for America. They may just store it in the cloud or the hard drive for a while, may not put it use, but collectively, the data set that they develop will be used in a way that puts our young men and women at risk and puts American freedom at risk,” he said.
And he also urged lawmakers to stand up to China, noting that India banned about 300 apps from China, and within two months, there were replacements for more than half of them.
“They aren’t ten feet tall. They have enormous challenges. And we need to go use the tools that we have, the power that we have, to impose real costs on them in a way that will shape their behavior, in a way that reflects the understanding that we have about how the West must win and how the United States must protect its own,” he said.