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Pompeo tells US senators ‘tide is turning’ against China, cites India’s actions

U.S. Secretary of State discusses pattern of Chinese violations of international agreements in a Twitter video. (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo/Released)

Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo on Thursday said US efforts to lead an “international awakening” against the Chinese government is working and the “tide is turning” as a result. He went on to cite Indian ban on Chinese apps as a manifestation of it along with the closer interactions of the Quad, and separate actions by other countries.

Testifying at a US senate hearing on the 2021 budget for the state department, Pompeo also said he is not yet certain about the shape or form of the “new grouping of like-minded nations — an alliance of democracies” that he recently mooted to confront the global threat from China in a major policy speech from a California library named after President Richard Nixon, whose 1972 visit let to the thaw in US-China relations. Pompeo had then called for a global compact, arguing US policy of “bling engagement” with China had failed.

The top US diplomat was pressed repeatedly by both Republican and Democratic senators on China, more than on any other foreign issues, reflecting the urgency felt among American policy makers on the issue.

Calling the Chinese Communist Party — US officials insist on treating the Chinese government as an entity separate from the people — “the central threat of our times” as he has before, Pompeo told senators, the “incursion” against India and the “real-estate claim” against Bhutan and other conflicts around the world were indicative of Chinese intentions to expand their reach and to bring “socialism with Chinese characteristics” to the world.

“Our vigorous diplomacy has helped lead an international awakening to the threat of the CCP,” he said, adding, “Senators, the tide is turning.”

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The secretary of state listed some of the global developments, he said, were the result of the American lead on international awakening against China: the growing ostracism of Chinese firms from the rollout of 5G networks, increasing rejection of Chinese claims in the disputed South China Sea, and the condemnation of the new laws in Hong Kong.

“We’re proud to have stepped up maritime maneuvers in that body of water (the South China Sea) alongside friends like Australia, India, Japan, and the UK,” Pompeo said in his full and prepared remarks, which were different from the brief summary he read out as his opening statement.

He added: “India has banned 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, that threatened its citizens’ privacy and security.”

The secretary of state had earlier indicated the United States had played an “assist” role in the first round of bans of 59 apps, without providing details. The US has since said it was considering a ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps and devices and companies threaten the security of the country.

Pompeo said the US, Australia, India, and Japan have “reinvigorated” the “Quad” as part of an effort to confront China through multilateral bodies. He went on to say this “grouping is stronger than it has ever been and maybe we were gifted by General Secretary Xi (Jinping).”

“He took actions that caused each of the leaders of those countries to recognize the value of this group,” he added. The secretary of answering a question about India’s invitation to Australia to join the upcoming military exercises with the United States and Japan.

The top US diplomat went on to specify the many actions the Trump administration has taken against China in recent months: sanctions against Chinese officials for the mistreatment of Uighur muslims in Xinjiang; imposition of export controls on companies supporting it; termination of trade benefits for Hong Kong and the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, which, he said, had become a “den of spies”.

As further indication of the Trump administration’s intentions for the region, Pompeo said the state department was seeking $1.49 billion for foreign assistance to the Indo-Pacific region, a 20% increase from the FY 2020 request. “We want that part of the world to be free, open, and prosperous,” he said.

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© 2020 the Hindustan Times