MR LESSER: Good morning, and good afternoon from Brussels. Welcome back to Brussels Forum 2020 in its 15th edition. And today we’re very pleased and honored to welcome U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo for a special conversation with us. We’ve hosted the Secretary with us before in Brussels in 2018. We’re very pleased to have him back again for what is sure to be a closely watched conversation on critical challenges facing us in foreign policy terms on both sides of the Atlantic and transatlantic relations.
As always, let me say a word of thanks to our partners in Brussels Forum: to our founding partners, Daimler and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; to our foreign partner Deloitte; and to all our associate and supporting knowledge partners. We’re very grateful to all of them. Let me also say a very special thank you to the U.S. Mission to the European Union, and in fact to all three U.S. missions here in Brussels for their consistent partnership and support.
Let me just also say a word about our founding partners, Daimler and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; to our Forum partner Deloitte; and to all our associate and supporting knowledge partners. We’re very grateful to all of them. Let me also say a very special thank you to the U.S. Mission to the European Union, and in fact to all three U.S. missions here in Brussels for their consistent partnership and support.
Let me just also say a word about our format today. The Secretary will make some brief remarks to begin with, and then we’re pleased to be able to turn this over for a conversation to Bojan Pancevski, who is Germany correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. He will have a conversation with the Secretary, and then the Secretary’s kindly agreed to take a few questions from our virtual audience as well. So once again, Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us in Brussels. Thanks to all of you for joining. Over to you, Bojan.
MR PANCEVSKI: Thank you very much, Ian, and welcome, Secretary of State. Welcome to our viewers. We’ll just I think let the Secretary of State have some opening remarks, tell us what’s on his mind, what’s keeping him busy, and then we’ll proceed with the discussion, and we’ll take some questions from the audience. So Secretary of State, please, go ahead.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Bojan, thank you. And Ian, thank you for inviting me to be with you all. Sorry I couldn’t do this in person. Hello to everyone’s who’s logged in to watch this today.
A few brief remarks: As Ian referred to, 18 months ago in Brussels I made the case to you all that multilateral institutions aren’t an end of themselves. We have to honestly assess what they do or don’t achieve. We have to see them for what they are, not what we wish them to be.
I don’t think that was a favorite among the European press. But you should know that privately, many of my counterparts told me that they agreed with me. They’re realistic about the state of these institutions and they too want to fix them.
I’m starting to see even more realism on the continent as it relates to the threat of the Communist Party in China. We should address that challenge together – as transatlantic partners have met many challenges. And that’s what I want to focus on today.
First, data. The truth. We need to acknowledge what’s happening.
I spoke this month with the EU foreign ministers, and then last Friday at an audience in Copenhagen. In both places, I listened to a lot of feedback about the Chinese Communist Party. And I laid out a series of facts:
I talked about the People’s Liberation Army’s provocative military actions. They include its continued aggression in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontations in India, an opaque nuclear program, and threats against peaceful neighbors.
I talked about how the CCP has broken multiple international commitments, including those to the WHO, the WTO, the United Nations, and the people of Hong Kong.
I talked too about the CCP’s predatory economic practices, such as trying to force nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.
And I talked about many of its violations of European sovereignty, including its browbeating of companies like HSBC.
I talked about Beijing’s legion human rights abuses, which continue to shock us all.
That’s it; just the facts. But they lead to a conclusion, in our judgment:
The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision. China is making that choice between freedom and democracy.
Look, the United States was slow to recognize this reality of the rising authoritarian regime and the implications it had for us here to our free society. Europe was slow, too.
But the CCP’s coverup of the coronavirus, an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China – which has now killed tens of thousands of our people, and hundreds of thousands of people across the world – I think it’s accelerated everyone’s awakening.
Europeans, like Americans, are starting to find their voice:
The Commission and the External Action Service last spring identified China as a “systemic rival” – a very important acknowledgment.
The Lithuanian intelligence services’ National Threat Assessment identified China as a potential threat for the first time in 2019, and did so again here in 2020.
The G7 condemned China’s national security law targeting Hong Kong.
I greatly appreciated, too, how the EU has called out China for its disinformation campaigns surrounding the pandemic.
It’s also not just words:
The new Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China – many of its European leaders – is gaining steam.
The United Kingdom has a strong stand – has taken a strong stand against the CCP’s intent to crush Hong Kongers’ autonomy.
The Czech Republic has led the charge in encouraging countries to adopt principles of secure networks, clean networks, in 5G.
And my friend, Secretary General Stoltenberg, has issued a welcome call to NATO to make China a greater part of the alliance’s focus.
Clearly, there is a transatlantic awakening to the truth of what’s happening.
Concerns are rightly growing about the CCP’s exploration – exploitation of multilateral bodies, too:
To give you just a single example, Chinese leaders at the International Telecommunications Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization have leveraged their positions to advance China’s narrow interests.
Certainly, the United States and many of our free-world friends have our differences on the subject of multilateralism.
But we can all agree that these institutions should be rooted in democratic values, hew to their missions, and reflect the interests of all member states.
Look, we’ve already done some good work. This spring, I led a global diplomatic effort to make sure that the next director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization be one who protects intellectual property rights on behalf of the world, not on behalf of China.
The transatlantic world has thrived like no other part of the world since World War II, so much in part because our countries protect intellectual property.
I want to thank our friends in France and the UK, with whom we worked closely, for their efforts in securing that important and good outcome. We should keep protecting multilateral bodies as transatlantic partners.
My message today to all of you, Bojan – my message today is this: We have to work together to continue the transatlantic awakening to the China challenge in the interest of preserving our free societies, our prosperity, and our future.
It won’t be easy. It’s tempting for many, particularly in our business communities, who make money in China to say we must calm tensions and simply accept an increasingly belligerent CCP. That’s nonsense.
I don’t accept that argument.
There is no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism.
I don’t want the future to be shaped by the CCP, and I’d wager no one on this call wants that either.
To that end, today I’m pleased to announce that the United States has accepted High Representative Borrell’s proposal to create a U.S.-EU Dialogue on China – I’m excited about this – a new mechanism for discussing the concerns we have about the threat China poses to the West and our shared democratic ideals. I look forward to kicking that off with High Representative Borrell just as soon as we can pull it together.
My invitation to America’s friends in Europe is to defend these values in our time, that they may shape the world for the good in the future just as they have done in the past. We’ll defend these values together.
Bojan, with that – Bojan, with that, I’m happy to take questions from you and from others as well.
MR PANCEVSKI: Thank you very much, Secretary of State. That’s an exciting piece of news. I know that your EU counterpart Borrell proposed that last week, I believe. How is it going to work? Could you tell me what kind of a dialogue – is it you and him directly? Is it going to be linked via Brussels? Does it include bilateral communication as well? How is it going to work?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So you’re right, this is new in the sense of the proposal came from High Representative Borrell just within the last handful of days, but you should know we were very interested in it. We put a big team on working together to begin to outline the shape of what this would look like, and I’m very hopeful that I’ll be able to travel to Europe here in just a handful of weeks to go kick that off. So we will certainly start it at a – as the – a senior level, where we will outline the mission set. And then while I don’t know exactly what shape it’ll take, I’m confident that we will set up a structure that will enhance our collective shared knowledge and our collective responses to ensuring that we protect freedom for every democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.
MR PANCEVSKI: Is there a time frame for this? Where do you expect it to really kick off and start operating?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I’m hopeful it becomes very real just in the next few weeks. It’s a little more difficult because we’re all a little stuck in terms of our capacity to travel, but I would expect that we will have teams in place identified in the next weeks and then real work to begin. It’s something that has a starting point that we want to kick off, but I don’t know that there’s an end point, right. This is something I expect will go on for an extended period of time because the challenge that we are jointly trying to solve for is how do we preserve freedom and democracy on both sides of the Atlantic and protect our citizens – EU citizens and American citizens alike – from the very fact set that I laid out at the beginning of my remarks today.
MR PANCEVSKI: And knowing the European Union – I myself have covered it for over a decade – I know that these people love a good committee. Are you concerned that this might sort of bog down the real action on the pressing challenges and sort of draw out this lengthy debate which will become technical and so on? The EU loves these things and it has shown in the past a sort of a tendency towards more sort of discussion and little action. Do you fear that that could be the outcome?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I’m realistic. You should know, Bojan, that people in America sometimes love good committees too. The United States Government’s not immune to that bureaucratic phenomenon, so we’re guilty too of that from time to time. I’m very hopeful that this will be different from that. Indeed, what I’m hopeful is – here, back up. The first thing we all have to do is make sure we have a collective data set. Can’t take collective action unless you have a shared understanding of the core facts. I don’t think anybody would dispute what I just laid out. We should build on that.
Once we’re confident that we have a shared understanding of the threat that is posed by the Chinese Communist Party, then we can begin to take action. And there’s a lot of work that’s been done already. There’s a lot of information sharing that has already taken place. What we’re counting on is this dialogue won’t be a resistance or, as you described, an outlet for energy with no action, but rather a catalyst for action. So on our side, we will work to make sure we have a shared set of facts and then create a set of proposals for things that we can do together.
Look, we know this too, Bojan: Not everybody in the EU will share – there’ll be – there’ll be two dozen different views, right. This is true on many issues. But I believe that by doing this we can form a collective judgment and find a set of places where there is significant overlap and then begin to execute the correct responses the same way the transatlantic alliance has always preserved democracy and freedom – a set of collective responses that will preserve and protect those very freedoms that the Chinese Communist Party wants to undermine each and every day.
MR PANCEVSKI: I think in outlining this you made two very important points – first, that there is an awakening in Europe about the role of China and how it shapes the global order today, and also that a lot of people are making a lot of money in China, and there is a sort of a tension between these two – these two issues. China is responsible for much of the growth in the European Union, especially for its biggest economy, Germany. And I remember last year when President Trump was at the height of the negotiation with China over a new trade arrangement, Chancellor Merkel traveled to Beijing with a bunch of CEOs in tow, and it sort of was seen in some American circles as slightly undermining the American argument when Europe is doing business with China and America is trying to reconfigure the whole relationship.
And your counterpart, Mr. Borrell himself, I think said quite recently that Europe – he sort of took cue from Frank Sinatra. So he explained the foreign policy as a sort of a “we have it our way, it’s a third way, it won’t be the American way, it won’t be the Chinese way. We’ll try to kind of straddle the line.” And what you’re saying is basically, I think, you can’t do that. You have to – at one point you will have to wake up to the reality of things.
What, though, if Europe continues to attempt to straddle this divide, as the divide widens? And a lot of people fear that divide will widen, given what’s happening over COVID and so on. Is there a contingency plan on your behalf, on the behalf of administration? What happens if the Europeans just sort of stubbornly go to the middle?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we have a big trade relationship with China too. It’s a market of a billion-plus people. That’s important to the United States economy. It is not necessarily an either/or, but what is required is that the ruleset on which that trade engages has to be reciprocal. It has to be fair. The Europeans know this too.
Make no mistake, the Chinese have stolen a lot of German secrets, and the German people are worse off for that. Billions of dollars of intellectual property stolen by the Chinese Communist Party, outside of Germany. The hardworking German people created that intellectual property, worked hard for that intellectual property, built that, protected it in their system, and the Chinese came and stole it. And they’ve done it all across Europe and they continue to do it; they’re doing it in the United States as well.
That’s a place where we can work very closely together. It is not you have to choose business over confronting the Chinese Communist Party. Indeed, confronting the Chinese Communist Party creates the opportunity for increased wealth creation in Europe and in the United States of America.
And so I’ll – the last thing to say about this is recall that China needs markets too. And this is what President Trump figured out that, frankly, no president had been willing to undertake before, was that China needs access to Western knowledge, Western knowhow. We need to make sure that they do that through the system of the rules-based order that has served the transatlantic so well for all of these years.
So I think the people of Europe will demand the same thing that the people of the United States of America are demanding, is that we no longer allow the Chinese Communist Party to dictate the rules and terms and conditions of those relationships when they’re not fair and equitable to our peoples. That’s what President Trump has been seeking, and I’m confident that’s what the Europeans will seek from their leaders as well.
MR PANCEVSKI: Thank you. And if we go beyond the issue of China and move on to another issue which is crucial for the transatlantic relationship at the moment, you yourself had served during the Cold War in Germany when I think there were around 300,000 U.S. troops on the ground there. There are (inaudible) and President Trump has announced that he will pull out around 10,000 of those troops because of a number of issues, including Germany’s economic ties in the energy domain with Russia, Germany’s failure to reach 2 percent of budget payments for NATO, et cetera.
What do you – I mean, how would you explain this strategic decision? Because we know that U.S. strategy, strategic analysis from the Pentagon and everywhere else, has concluded since 2014 that Russia does sort of pose a threat to Europe and to the United States interests. How would you explain this to your counterparts in Europe, who were sort of surprised? I think we even saw the Polish President Duda yesterday, who visited the White House and whose country stands to gain from this move in terms of getting some troops over to Poland – he himself pleaded with the President not to do this, not to pull those troops out.
So what would be your strategic analysis here? Why is this – how does this help the American interest?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So several thoughts for you. First, we do consider Russia to be a serious threat. Spending 1 percent of your GDP on defense, as Germany does, acknowledges that they may well not take it as serious a threat as the United States of America takes it. They need to. They need to live up not to a commitment that the United States made on their behalf or not the commitment that the EU drove through them. It’s a commitment that Germany made that it would live up to, and it has to date chosen not to do that. The President has been very clear that that doesn’t show the resolve that Vladimir Putin needs to see from Germany.
You referenced briefly the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, where Germany is now going to have a significant piece of their energy connected to Russia in such a deep and fundamental way that Vladimir Putin, who appears to now, going to be in power for quite some time, is going to have the capacity to have a real – a capacity to inflict real costs on Germany if he chose to do so or threatened to do so.
As for our decision, President Trump has spoken to this. Secretary Esper will be in London today and in Brussels I think tomorrow. He’ll talk about our plan and how we’re thinking about delivering it. But you should understand this, and I hope the – our European partners will understand this as well: When you see what we ultimately conclude and we ultimately deliver on the statements that the President has made, that they’re aimed squarely at what we believe to be democracies’ fundamental interests, and certainly America’s most fundamental interest.
It’s been a long time since there has been a strategic review of our force posture all across the world. We undertook that starting about two and a half years ago, whether that was our forces in Africa, our forces in Asia, the forces we have in the Middle East, and in Europe. We began to say these are often decisions that were made in a different time; should we reallocate those in a different way; should we have a different composition of those forces? Everyone always wants to talk about ground troops. I get it. I was a young tank officer – you described that – and there’s nothing I like as much as a good M1 tank. But it’s often the case that the capacity to deter Russia or other adversaries isn’t determined any longer by just having a bunch of folks garrisoned someplace.
And so we really want back, fundamentally relook – what is the nature of the conflict? What’s the nature of the threat and how should we allocate our resources, whether that’s our resources in the Intelligence Community, our resources from the Air Force and the Marines and Army? Our broad set of allocation of security apparatus, our ability to counter cyber threats – how do we allocate them? What’s the best way to do this? And the decision that you see the President made with respect to Germany is an outcome from a collective set of decisions about how we’re going to posture our resources around the world.
I’ll close with this last thought on – in answer to your question. This is going to dictate that in certain places there will be fewer American resources. There’ll be other places – I just talked about the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, so now threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea challenges, the Philippines. We’re going to make sure we’re postured appropriately to counter the PLA. We think that’s the challenge of our time, and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that.
To the extent that that change, the difference in what the United States decides to do, impacts adversely a threat someplace, it may be that other nations need to step up and take responsibility for their own defense in ways that they hadn’t done previously. So we want to do this in full consultation with all of our partners all around the world, and certainly our friends in Europe.
MR PANCEVSKI: And another issue that similarly is sort of chipping away at the confidence in the transatlantic relationship here in Europe is the issue of Iran, which I think you’re also directly involved in. Is there any sort of contingency planning for the eventuality that Iran will actually restart the nuclear program? I think the maximum pressure campaign – some people have said it works, but it also may well lead, and it seems to be leading, to Tehran going back to what was – the whole point of this agreement was to avoid them striving to achieve – to create a nuclear weapon. What would you do in that sense? I mean, I think you said earlier on CBS in an interview that you’re confident they will not go there. But they seem to be suggesting they are going there. What would you do if they went there?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well —
MR PANCEVSKI: And the Europeans are not on board, it would appear.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the Europeans just have a different view of how to achieve that. We fundamentally think they’re wrong. We’ve had this conversation now for three and a half years with them. We continue to have a disagreement there. Yeah, no, there’s no doubt the maximum pressure campaign has been successful. The – Hizballah has got fewer resources. We’ve depleted their capacity to build out systems that they would have built out if we’d have continued to do business and throw wealth and money and resources at the ayatollah. We’ve constrained them. We’ve built out a big coalition to counter Iran in the Gulf States and all across the region. So I’m very confident that the approach that our administration has taken is correct.
It’s also true that the Iranians have chosen now to violate their commitments under the JCPOA. It was their sovereign decision to do so. In October of this year, the arms embargo will expire. That can’t happen, or the Iranians will be permitted to buy weapons systems. They’ll become one of the largest sellers of weapons systems around the world. They’ll be able to buy Chinese jets and Russian jets. I can’t imagine that a citizen of Slovenia or Germany or Greece or any other European country would conclude that it was wise to allow the Iranians to have that capability and the capacity to generate wealth by selling those weapon systems.
And so the United States is going to make sure that doesn’t happen. We have a UN Security Council resolution that we’ll present in the coming weeks. We are hopeful that we will convince all of the partners on the UN Security Council that extending the arms embargo on Iran makes sense. It was one of the central failures of the nuclear deal that after just a handful of years, three years-plus, four years-plus, we’re having to contemplate the expiration of that provision, which is central to European security, not just the security of the American people.
As for their nuclear program, we’re watching it closely. I won’t say any more than we are confident that we have the capability collectively to ensure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.
MR PANCEVSKI: And do you have the confidence that you will not be alone in this? Is there an alliance of the willing, including European nations, to actually take more significant action in this regard?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I don’t know – I think the Europeans will have a very difficult argument to make to the world that they’re not prepared to do what it takes to extend this arms embargo. I don’t think any freedom-loving nation should stand by when they have the capacity, a tool, a legal mechanism, to extend this arms embargo. I’m very hopeful that the Europeans, as the weeks tick by here, will conclude the same thing that the United States did. It’s an imperative that this arms embargo be extended.
And as for the coalition, there are many countries, many European countries that are with us. It’s not only the case that France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have a say in this. There are many European countries that share our view. And there’s lots of countries in the region – Israel, the Gulf states – all of whom understand that the world’s largest state sponsor of terror – terrorism sits squarely in Tehran, and they’re prepared to be alongside of taking the actions that we need to ensure that there’s never a nuclear weapon in the hands of the ayatollah, a very dangerous thing for the world.
MR PANCEVSKI: You mentioned the COVID-19 crisis, and that’s basically the reason why we’re doing this in this kind of virtual online way. There’s a lot of concern about transatlantic travel, which obviously has been obstructed by this. Initially the United States closed borders for Europeans and now the Europeans are drafting plans to reopen their borders, but it would appear there’s a lot of reporting and discussions that they, the European Union, could sort of impose restrictions on travel from the United States because of the levels of infection. Is there any way to get around this? I mean, you see now that the holiday season is coming, obviously business is eager to restart movement. Is there any – I mean, you’ve spoken to your counterparts about this. Is there any solution that you’ve discussed?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s a real challenge. It’s a challenge for all of us to decide how and when to open up our economies and our societies. Everybody’s trying to figure that out, from city councilmen to mayors, county commissioners, provincial leaders across the world, governors here in the United States. So there are enormously complex issues about what the appropriate level of activity and travel is in order to both ensure that we get our economies going again and provide protection and safety for our people. We’re working with our European counterparts to get that right. Both today – both – we’ve denied travel to Europe and vice versa. That’s the posture that we all sit in now, and I think we’re all taking seriously the need to figure out how to get this open. We need to get our global economy back going again. There’s enormous destruction of wealth that’s created, and poverty yields bad health outcomes in many parts of the world. We need to get our economies back going again.
We’ll work closely with our European friends, broadly, because I know there’s different views, again, inside the European Union. We’ve heard from a dozen or more countries that have very different views about their willingness to open up their borders to anyone, not only folks from the United States of America. We’ll work to get this right. We want to make sure it’s science-based, health-based, that our transportation team, Homeland Security team, as well as the State Department, deliver a process and set of tools so that not only are nations comfortable opening their borders up again, but individuals who are making the choice to travel are comfortable, that have – that they are being protected in a way that’s adequate so that we will in fact not only allow travel again, but actually have people who choose to travel again as well.
MR PANCEVSKI: Great, thank you. Let’s take some questions of the audience because we’re running short of time. Mr. Steven Erlanger from The New York Times, diplomatic editor. He’s got a question on Syria. He says the Turks are building up their presence there. They’ve got up to 10,000 troops. American troops are still there, so it appears that we’ve got more leverage with Russia to get to talk seriously about Syria. Are you going to try to do that, and what are the Russians saying?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I appreciate that question. So Ambassador Jeffrey and our team are working diligently to move forward the UN Security Council process, the constitutional committee. We’re making progress; it’s been terribly slow. But the question suggests – talked about leverage. Look, our troop presence there is designed to work diligently to continue to make sure that the work that we did to destroy the caliphate in Syria isn’t diminished, that we continue to have the capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations in the region. We have made very clear to the Russians, clear to the Iranians as well, that they need to leave this. The millions of people who have had to flee Syria are a direct result of Iranian and Russian decisions.
We passed – it came into effect just this week – an incredible, broad set of sanctions on the Syrian regime. It’s had an impact already. You can – you need look no further than the valuation of the Syrian currency and the financial challenges this is presenting to the Assad regime. We hope that each of these actions that the United States has taken – and we’ve done so with great partners from some European countries as well – but each of these actions we have taken lead to a political resolution that can ultimately lead to an outcome in Syria where not only can we begin the long effort to do the reconstruction work that will need to be done, but all of the places that are so burdened by the Syrian refugees that live in such terrible conditions – whether that’s in Jordan or in Lebanon or in Turkey, living under very, very difficult circumstances – have the opportunity one day to return to their country again. That’s the mission statement that we have set out for our diplomatic team, and I hope that in the coming months we can make real progress on that.
MR PANCEVSKI: We’ve got another question from Mr. Hiro Akita from Nikkei. He’s asking, how do you assess the result of your meeting with China State Councilor Mr. Yang in Honolulu. Were there any – was there any progress on South China Sea, Hong Kong, North Korea, COVID-19, or anything of note at all?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I’ve talked a little bit about the meeting. I don’t want to say much more about the actual conversations, but suffice it to say what I read to you this morning about the challenges of the Chinese Communist Party still exist even after that gathering. I think we were able to make clear some of the actions that the United States is prepared to take.
I also think that the Chinese took away from this that the world is now – this isn’t the United States confronting China – that the world is now confronting China. While I was sitting there, the G7 statement on Hong Kong came out. Literally, someone slipped him a note telling him that the statement had come out. He wanted to say this was just the United States coming after them for the national security law that is – law that’s pending there. It’s not. The challenges in the South China Sea – this isn’t the United States and the United States alone. It’s a dozen-plus Southeast Asian countries and Asian countries who understand the threat.
So we were able to share that. There were no major breakthroughs. The – he shared that they have every intention of completing our – the first part of the trade deal that we negotiated with them. We hope that that’s the case. We hope they’ll fulfill all of their commitments there.
MR PANCEVSKI: And we’ve got another China question from a viewer called Danny (inaudible). He’s asking: What proof do you have specifically that Huawei is an arm of the CCP surveillance states, something which you’ve said now and you’ve said that before as well.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, there’s many things that I can’t share in an open setting, but I am highly confident that anybody who stares at Huawei for very long – you don’t have to go very far. We know that if you go to the top floors of Huawei’s commercial building inside of China that there are members of the Chinese security apparatus working there.
More simply, you can just get online and look at Chinese security laws. It requires companies like Huawei to share any information that they have. That includes the private information, whether that’s health care information or other personal information of a citizen from the Czech Republic or a citizen of Germany or France. That information, if it transits a Huawei system and Huawei captures that information, they don’t need a back door. They don’t need secret access. They own the joint, right? They don’t need a key to the – they own the infrastructure. And if that information passes across that infrastructure and Huawei has the capacity to capture it – the most egregious privacy violations in the world – that information will be in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party if the Chinese Communist Party deems it necessary to have that information. Huawei has a legal obligation to provide it to them.
That’s different than, I think, anyplace else in the world, certainly any country that has the capacity to have this much infrastructure inside of Western democracies’ telecommunication systems. It’s simply unacceptable.
MR PANCEVSKI: A bunch of China questions pouring in. This one is from Chris (inaudible). He’s asking whether there are any shared interests with China that could be pursued in parallel to your campaign, basically, to contain China and redefine the relationship.
And I would add to this question, if I may abuse my privilege as moderator: Is there anything you can add as an incentive to the Europeans to come along with you on this journey? Because so far, it’s been a lot of friction and it doesn’t seem to have been very effective. Is there any incentive that you can actually offer to them?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think the Europeans have every incentive to do precisely what it is the United States is doing, which is to protect their own people, to demand reciprocity, to demand fair treatment, to no longer say to the Chinese Communist Party, “Look, you have a billion people, we’re going to do it your way.” That’s been the model in the West for an awfully long time now. I think the Europeans have every incentive to get this right not for the United States, not for the good of the world, but for the good of their own people. So I think there’s plenty of incentives that already exist.
This will have to be the last question. I want to take the first part of that because it’s an important question. Yes, there are a whole lot of things that we hope we can work on with the Chinese Communist Party, but they get a vote. They get to decide, right? We haven’t said we won’t trade with them. We’ve simply said we’re going to trade on a fair set of conditions. We haven’t said, “Hey, we’re not going to do business with you.” We’ve said, “Stop stealing our intellectual property.” So yes, there’s a wide field that we can choose to work on projects with them, but they have to decide. Are they going to continue to abuse the Western system? Are they going to continue to behave in ways that no other nation behaves when it comes to global commerce?
We’ve seen what they do at the World Trade Organization, right? They still hold out their claim that they’re a developed country and they’re one of the largest economies in the world. It’s not fair. That’s not fair not only to Americans and to Brits and to the Dutch; it’s not fair to the developed nations who actually, as the WTO was formed, were – this system was designed for. And so yes, I think there’s lots of places we can work together.
Sadly, I don’t see that the Chinese Communist Party has a heck of a lot of intention of behaving in a way consistent with what we demand from each other in the transatlantic alliance. We do our level best to compete and to operate with a rules-based order, where you can go to our court systems and make a claim that is truly adjudicated in a fair and impartial way, absent politics. That doesn’t exist today. Foreign direct investment inside of Europe operates under – for China operates under a wholly different set of rules than European investment inside of China. That’s not right. They have access to our capital markets in ways we don’t have access to theirs.
We can work on all of these things with them, but they’ve got to make the decision that they conclude that that’s in their best interest. They’ve not done so to date.
MR PANCEVSKI: Thank you. Did you say there was time for another question or was that it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Bojan, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to run off. I apologize.
MR PANCEVSKI: Good. Well, thank you so much for being with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, Bojan. Thank you very much. Thank you for helping. Thanks, everyone, for joining me today. So long.