INTERVIEW/China's behavior to dictate U.S. relations with Taipei, Beijing: Pompeo

03/10/2021 05:05 PM
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Former United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Former United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Washington, March 9 (CNA) Former United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned of the ongoing threat posed by China to the rest of the world, and put the onus for the U.S.' future relations with Taiwan and China on the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party.

In an interview with CNA in Washington on Tuesday, Pompeo reflected on China's growing influence and the need to counter it, and how relations between Washington, Taipei, and Beijing could evolve.

When asked about how relations between Washington and Taipei could be strengthened further, Pompeo did not answer directly out of deference to the current administration, but put the ball squarely in Beijing's court.

"We moved a long ways. I want to give this administration a chance to conduct its review before opining on a couple of those issues," he said. "Much depends on the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party."

Looking at relations with China more broadly, he urged Beijing to act responsibly, "like a normal nation," including not engaging in "predatory economic practices."

"Much about this relationship will turn on the actual set of understandings and actions taken by Xi Jinping and his fellow Politburo members," and if they will get it right, he said.

"They talk about win-win all the time. I never saw win-win. I saw win for China, lose for some other country," he said, describing the behavior as "completely inappropriate."

Pompeo said he hoped China would change course, but if it did not, the world needed to be united in opposing activity "that's inconsistent with the fundamental understandings of the way the world has worked for the last 40 or 50 years."

Pushing boundaries

On Taiwan, Pompeo tried to push the boundaries on relations with Taipei, including lifted longstanding restrictions on interactions between American and Taiwanese officials.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory even though it has never been under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China, has taken an increasingly hard line against anything it perceives as suggesting Taiwan is a sovereign country, and it was not happy with the move.

Pompeo, however, said it was actually in Beijing's interests.

"We concluded it made sense for us to have more conversations, not fewer, to have more open conversations, not more clandestine conversations, to treat this consistent with America's one China policy that is long established," he said.

"I think this benefits people of mainland China. I think this benefits people in Taiwan...that the United States is prepared to have these conversations without these silly administrative restrictions."

The Biden administration has continued the policy, allowing meetings between Taiwanese and American diplomats at U.S. embassies and the State Department, and Pompeo praised his successor, Antony Blinken for staying the course in other areas.

"Secretary Blinken has spoken about the genocide that's taking place in western China. I applaud him for building on what I tried to do. I hope that he can do even better than we did," Pompeo said.

The challenge, he said, will be on economic issues, noting that the Chinese Communist Party is deeply entangled in Western economies everywhere.

Highlights from the interview

Building alliances

"Countries need to be prepared to make sure that they stand up for their own economies, that they build trading relationships outside of those relationships with China that can preserve and secure their freedoms against this economic juggernaut," he said.

That will require fostering strong alliances, something the former secretary of state said was one of the essential missions facing the United States.

"We need to make sure that the world is aware of all that the Chinese Communist Party is doing. Second, we need to make sure that we build out a global coalition based on that set of understandings."

He said countries, whether in Southeast Asia or Taiwan, Japan or South Korea, will turn to the United States and will want to know "that we will have their back. "

If the U.S. is prepared to take economic and diplomatic actions and build its military to be able to deter Chinese Communist Party aggression, "I'm very confident that Western democracies, our way of life, will continue."

(By Stacy Hsu and Luke Sabatier)

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