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Pompeo says ‘America slept while China grew’ as China’s military rapidly grows

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers a speech on “Communist China and the Free World’s Future” at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, in Yorba Linda, California, on July 23, 2020. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain)
September 02, 2020

In an interview Tuesday with Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave his assessment of China’s rapid geopolitical expansion. Pompeo’s take: “Frankly, America slept while China grew.”

Pompeo spoke with Dobbs about China’s expansion over the previous four decades, including advances to its military. In his remarks, Pompeo told Dobbs, “It’s 40 years in coming. Frankly, America slept while China grew. You talked about their missile systems, their military, all the things that have grown.”

Pompeo’s assessment came on the same day that the U.S. Department of Defense released its annual report on China’s military expansion. Among its several findings, the Pentagon noted China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has surpassed that of the U.S. Navy and determined China is on track to at least double its arsenal of nuclear warheads within the next decade.

Pompeo agreed that some comparisons could be made between the challenges that the U.S. faces with China and those it faced during the Cold War with Russia.

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“The Cold War analogy has some relevance but the truth of the matter is the Chinese Communist Party made some choices under General Secretary Xi.  He’s made it clear whether it’s his military buildup, the diplomatic efforts, the Belt and Road Initiative to try and create vassal states, a tyrannical regime all around the world for global hegemony – the challenges are different.

Pompeo credited President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge China and said China has been particularly vocal against the U.S. because “for the first time there’s an administration, a President in the United States who isn’t just going to turn the other cheek, who’s prepared to take on this challenge.”

Pompeo also credited Trump’s administration with leading other countries to turn away from diplomatic ties with China.

“It’s central that we have friends and allies in this battle. We’ve worked for two years now to build that out. We’ve made real progress. You’ve seen lots of countries turn away from Huawei,” Pompeo said. “You’ve seen them acknowledge the threat. They slept on this threat the same way America did for two decades.”

Pompeo added, “I think you’re seeing the entire world begin to unite around the central understanding that the Chinese Communist Party simply is going to refuse to compete in a fair, reciprocal, transparent way, and so whether it’s our friends in India, our friends in Australia, friends in Japan or South Korea, I think they have all come to see the risk to their own people, to their own countries, and you’ll see them partner with the United States to push back on every front that we’ve talked about this evening.”