QUESTION: With us now is the author of those comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Lou, it’s great to be with you tonight.
QUESTION: I have the feeling, the strong feeling, that you and the President are taking the country to a level of consciousness that we had not anticipated perhaps for many years. Many of us had hoped we would get there, but you’re actually taking us there, warning of the implications of a highly sophisticated China that is expansionary and is insinuating itself into the very fabric of our society and our nation.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir. It’s been too long. We’ve allowed this to continue without a deep awareness from the American people. The remarks I gave on Saturday past were just a recitation of facts, things that are taking place that the Chinese Communist Party is doing. We love the Chinese people. There are places that we can trade with them. There are constructive components to the relationship.
But everyone needs to be aware that there are these risks. My role in this is these are often Chinese diplomats who are stationed here in the United States engaged in this activity, and we just want everyone to be aware of the risks that are associated with activities that they may be undertaking.
QUESTION: And as you said, in every state in the union this influence operation, if you will, by the Chinese is underway, and without exception every state, every citizen, should be aware of it. The scale of what you are putting in front of us as a threat from the People’s Republic of China is massive. It is sophisticated. It’s complex. And you’re also talking about a U.S. foreign policy that has to, in response, be equally sophisticated while our citizenry is – we’re all trying to catch up to you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Lou, it’s – the President’s talked about this. I’m proud of what we have done. We, for the first time, said hey, here are the things that we want to do to protect the American people from this challenge that the Chinese Communist Party threatens. So on trade, it’s reciprocity and transparency. In this sense, it’s the same way.
They’ve got a Confucius Institute. You’ve seen these, Lou, at many of the colleges around the United States of America. Boy, if it’s really just about people-to-people ties, why can’t we have the same thing at a Chinese institution? We’d welcome that opportunity. They’ve got them in high schools. They’ve got the Thousand Talents Plan. These are things that we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist Party to do here in the United States that we just don’t have the ability to do on a reciprocal basis there on the side of China.
QUESTION: You, in your remarks warning us about China, used as an example – talk about the Thousand Talents Program. At Texas A&M University they thought they had five people engaged with the Chinese, and it turned out to be a hundred of their faculty engaged. Your thoughts about that and how we could have let it get to this point.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Lou, I think we just weren’t paying attention, and I think people were unwilling to take on the challenge. President Trump is not willing to take – not afraid to take on that challenge. Our FBI, our Justice Department, are now working hard on these things.
You’re right. There were five declared. There were dozens and dozens more that were actually working as part of this program. We have a set of rules about how that’s supposed to take place. They weren’t complying with that.
This is what we ask: We want Chinese students who are coming here to learn. That seems fine and it’s wonderful. But we need to make sure that they’re doing so on a basis that is transparent and fair and that these students who are coming here aren’t under the long arm of Beijing, reporting back into their country in ways that we just don’t – our First Amendment doesn’t permit, and it’s deeply inconsistent with our values here in the United States as well.
QUESTION: And it looks like a wholesale attempted buyout of our universities and our academics, those who would take Chinese money, and in some cases, as is the apparent outcome at Harvard University, the head of their chemistry department taking millions of dollars from the Chinese while also being – receiving grants from the federal government.
SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has talked about this a lot. The theft of American intellectual property by the Chinese Communist Party is something that has been central. The President talked about this even in his campaign, even before he was elected, about how unfair this was, how we were getting – I think he used the words ripped off.
We need to make sure and protect American academics, American intellectual property, American innovators, protect the property and the work that they’ve done so that that wealth accretes to the inventor and the property owner, not to the Chinese Communist Party. President Trump has been strong on this. The State Department and all of the relevant agencies of the United States Government are very focused on protecting the American people.
QUESTION: And as if the relationship between the United States and China weren’t complicated enough, the coronavirus outbreak, the United States working hard to get medical teams in from our CDC into China, trying to help. I know that you have – this administration has – shipped all sorts of medical supplies to the Chinese. How would you assess – and I know you and Alex Azar, the head of HHS, wrote an op-ed. Can you update that just a bit for us in terms of what’s going on?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Lou, it’s a global epidemic that we need to work our way through with science and facts. President Trump has taken action to try and protect the American people. We’ve changed the ability of folks to come here. When we got Americans out of Wuhan where the – is the center of the effect, we’ve put them in quarantine for 14 days to make sure we protected the American people.
Secretary Azar has been hard at work to get science and facts, American experts, into the country to make sure that we help the world address this challenge. And then we at the State Department have brought Americans home. We’ve done so safely. And now we’ve provided up to $100 million in assistance not only to China but to other countries that are impacted by the coronavirus. This is a serious challenge, and the whole world needs to take on this challenge together.
QUESTION: Well, a man with plenty of challenges, Secretary Mike Pompeo. We thank you for being with us. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Lou. Have a good evening, sir.
QUESTION: You, too.