NEW YORK: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday (Oct 30) vowed to ramp up pressure on China on multiple fronts, calling Beijing "truly hostile" to the United States.
In the latest hawkish take on China by President Donald Trump's administration, Pompeo said he would deliver a series of speeches in coming months laying out cases against Beijing on areas from ideology to trade to its efforts for influence within the United States.
"Today we're finally realising the degree to which the Chinese Communist Party is truly hostile to the United States and our values," Pompeo told the conservative Hudson Institute in New York.
Pompeo highlighted China's clampdown on Hong Kong protests and incarceration of Uighur Muslims and said Beijing was seeking international domination - implicitly rejecting US experts who argue that the communist leaders are fundamentally pragmatic.
"The Chinese Communist Party is offering its people and the world an entirely different model of governance - it's one in which a Leninist party rules and everyone must think and act according to the will of the Communist elites," he said.
"That's not a future that I want ... and it's not a future that the freedom-loving people of China" want, he said.
At a dinner attended by Henry Kissinger, the apostle of realpolitik who negotiated US normalisation of ties with Beijing, Pompeo said Washington had long been too easy on China in hopes that it would transform.
"We hesitated and did far less than we should have when China threatened its neighbours like Vietnam and the Philippines and when they claimed the entire South China Sea," he said.
Pompeo nonetheless said that the United States did not seek confrontation but rather still wanted to encourage a more "liberalised" China.
His remarks follow a speech last week by Vice President Mike Pence that sounded similar themes and amid a simmering trade war which Trump has voiced hope of resolving.
In a speech in Houston on Monday, China's ambassador in Washington signaled his country would not take any criticism of the party, which he said was "deeply trusted and widely supported by the Chinese people".
"To draw a line between the Party and the people is to challenge the entire Chinese nation," Cui Tiankai said, according to a copy of his remarks on the Chinese embassy's website.
"Claiming to welcome a successful China on one hand, and defaming and working to overthrow the very force that leads the Chinese people towards success on the other, have you ever seen anything more hypocritical and outrageous than this?"
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday that Pompeo's comments expose the "political bias and dark anti-Communist mindset of some U.S. politicians."
"Pompeo's remarks were a vicious attack on the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. It drives a wedge between the Party and our people and it smears our domestic and foreign policy," said Geng.