QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome to the show.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Sean, it’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me on.
QUESTION: You bet. Before I get into the questions, I just want to say I think there’s three groups in America when it comes to politicians: people who have their head in the sand when it comes to China, people who talk a good game, and people who are willing to do what it takes to fight China. You are in that later category, and I want to make sure viewers understand for too long we’ve heard people talk about China; you’re finally doing something about China. And I appreciate it and I think people need to understand that. So thank you for what you’re doing.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, China is clearly on a rampage these days. Jimmy Lai, the pro-democracy voice and media tycoon in Hong Kong, was arrested under orders from Beijing. Now China is putting sanctions on 11 U.S. citizens, including Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley. How is the U.S. going to respond to this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, Sean, I think everybody needs to recognize that the Chinese Communist Party for decades now has taken advantage of America. That’s the starting point: 50 years of failed policy where we thought if we just engage, if we’re nice to them, if we do business with them, then somehow they’ll leave us be. Well, we know that’s not been the case. It didn’t work. I gave some remarks about that a couple weeks back at the Nixon Library.
And President Trump knew it. He campaigned on this very issue. He said we’re going to just – we just want this to be fair. We don’t mean anything ill-willed towards the Chinese people, but the Chinese Communist Party has been walking on the United States for decades and we’re not going to let that happen, enough.
And so we’ve begun to push back in ways that are real, that protect the American people. You see it with what we’re doing on Chinese software. You see it with what we’re doing in terms of diplomats here who were conducting spying out of our consulate in Houston. The President has permitted us to seriously respond in ways that simply say be fair, be reciprocal, whether it’s trade or whether it’s diplomats or whether it’s information campaigns, misinformation campaigns, the United States is no longer going to simply turn the other cheek and let Americans suffer for it.
We’re going to respond in real ways so that the actions they’ve taken with respect to Jimmy Lai and the sanctions that they have nebulously imposed on some senior American officials in Congress, you can be sure the United States will measure them, respond to them, and help the Chinese Communist Party understand you’re not going to take action against America or Americans without President Trump responding.
QUESTION: Could you foresee a ban on all Chinese officials and business folks, much like we had during the Soviet Union during the Cold War days?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I try not to get ahead of what the President is thinking about, but make no mistake: We have a long list of actions that we are contemplating that will simply drive the Chinese Communist Party to understand that when you treat Americans poorly, when you steal our intellectual property, when you threaten our people all across the world – you know under this new national security law they’ve now come after at least two American citizens – when you conduct a human rights violation on the scale you are doing in the western part of the country with respect to the Uyghurs, when you do those things, America is no longer going to stand idly by and President Trump is going to be cost imposing with the objective to ask them to do the right thing.
We’re going to distrust and then we’re going to go verify, and we aim to induce change in the Chinese Communist Party’s behavior. It’s that straightforward. America’s people deserve it and our national security demands it.
QUESTION: You mentioned the line that you just used. It was the inverse of a Reagan line that you used at the Nixon Library when you gave that speech. Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” You said, “Distrust, but verify” when it comes to China.
China has given us a lot, right? They’ve given us cheap goods and a lot of lies. Why should we believe anything that they have to say?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Broken promises is the main storyline. We all know that, Sean. You know communism. We all grew up in the time when the communist ideology was spreading rapidly throughout the Soviet Union and its satellite states. We know that they have a bias towards untruth, and here it’s in spades.
We saw them break the promise, the commitments they made to the people of Hong Kong. We’ve watched them break promises to the World Health Organization that have now caused hundreds of thousands of people all across the world to suffer from a virus that began in Wuhan, China, right. They said they’d tell the world if they came upon a virus that could potentially breed a pandemic around the world, and yet they didn’t. Instead of telling the world, they covered up. They allowed their citizens to travel abroad.
They created real risk, and that risk has now caused enormous devastation not only to the lives, as I mentioned, but to trillions of dollars in lost economic value to the world – lots of jobs, lots of people who will suffer because of the promises the Chinese Communist Party failed to keep.
You have to distrust them. You have to challenge everything that they say. You need to go verify it when they make a promise. And when they do that, when they make a commitment and they verify it, we’ll applaud them. But we’re no longer going to stand by and allow them to take actions that threaten us all.
QUESTION: Finally. That’s great to hear. President Trump and you guys have targeted Chinese companies like TikTok, WeChat, and Huawei for potentially spying on the U.S. You closed a consulate the other day because of potential copyright infringement and espionage. Do we have hard evidence that these companies or other U.S. companies are spying on the U.S. or U.S. businesses?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s very simple, Sean. Every one of those companies has an obligation to the party – not to the nation but to the Chinese Communist Party – that says if you want to go operate overseas, you must be prepared to turn over information. We know a lot more than that. I can’t say a whole heck of a lot about it. But make no mistake about it: The United States is aware that these companies are being used for China’s national security purposes, and we just simply think that’s unacceptable. There’s too many kids out on TikTok with all their data, all their information, their location, lots of pieces of information about them that no parent wants the Chinese Communist Party to have in its hands. And we’re going to do the right thing to protect each of those young people who are out there using Chinese software that the Chinese Communist Party is using for nefarious purposes.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if a parent is listening to this right now and their child likes making fun videos on TikTok and they don’t think it’s a problem, what’s your message to those parents?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Just know this: This isn’t as innocent as it appears. We all have come accustomed to American companies providing good entertainment value to our kids. Frankly, I was frustrated by how much time my son spent on various technology tools. But wholly apart from the parenting challenge, this is different in kind. This is the Chinese Communist Party using data sets for purposes of their own national security.
Every parent needs to be mindful that when you hand over data, whether that’s your address or a credit card number or your driver’s license or your age or the school that you go to, or even just your name and put your face in front of that camera, you are creating opportunities for the company that’s on the other side of that software. And when that company is owned by the Chinese Communist Party or is a Chinese company that is beholden and operates at only the good grace of the Chinese Communist Party, there is a good chance that all of that information will end up in the hands of people I don’t think any parent wants their kids’ data to be part of.
QUESTION: Yeah, I don’t think many parents fully appreciate what you’re communicating in terms of how dangerous it is.
Let me switch gears for a moment to Taiwan. Right now the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is in Taiwan. It has an excellent record of dealing with the coronavirus. China is quite angry about this trip. Would you say that we’re sending a message to Beijing with the visit of Secretary Azar, or is this much larger of a shift in favor of Taiwan over the mainland?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So Secretary Azar is there for the singular purpose of working with the Taiwanese Government on something that’s important to everyone in the world – making sure we come to understand this Wuhan virus, to make sure we understand the threat, to make sure we know how Taiwan so successfully dealt with this issue in their own country. We want to share with them what we’ve learned, what we know too. We know an awful lot about this. That was the purpose of his visit.
I must say, Sean, I’m always surprised that when the United States sends its health minister to another country why anyone would find that so threatening. He went there for the noble humanitarian purpose of reducing risk to citizens all across the world, including Chinese citizens. When they have to hide, it seems pretty weak when the mere presence of a health minister in a particular place working to defeat this global pandemic you find threatening or you find angering or you find somehow challenging to your very nation’s national security. I think that tells you a lot about the weakness of the Chinese Communist Party and the fact that it could feel threatened from such a visit.
QUESTION: Well, speaking of that threatenedness [sic], if China were to make provocative actions towards either Taiwan or its outlining islands, where is that red line for the U.S. in terms of us going in and defending Taiwan?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Sean, this is obviously a very sensitive issue. The President has talked about this a great deal. We have a series of commitments and a series of understandings, commitments that we’ve made to China as well. We thoroughly intend to uphold our obligations and commitments with respect to the historical understandings between the United States and China on Taiwan. The Secretary’s visit is – Secretary Azar’s visit is wholly consistent with those commitments, and we’ve told both the Chinese and the Taiwanese that we are going to continue to abide by that set of understandings. It’s enshrined in U.S. law as well, so it’s an obligation that we do so. I am confident that we’ll continue to keep up those promises.
That’s the difference, Sean, right? When we make promises, we live up to them or we do our darn best to do so. When the Chinese Communist Party makes promises around the world, it’s solely for their benefit; and when those promises are no longer of any value, they walk away from them.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, before I let you go, I want to get your comments on something that National Security Advisor O’Brien said, where intelligence proves that China favors a Joe Biden administration. How concerned are you that China is going to get involved in this election to try to get a Biden outcome?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Sean, the entire national security team – that certainly includes the State Department, but our intelligence agencies, our FBI, Department of Homeland Security – who is responsible to conduct free and fair elections here inside the United States, I am very confident we’ll deliver that.
Having said that, make no mistake: It is the case that the Iranians, the Chinese, the Russians too, are engaged in influence operations here in the United States. We have a responsibility to take down that misinformation, to share with the American people the risks that are connected to that. And it should be unsurprising to anyone that the Chinese Communist Party has seen what we’ve just talked about for a good long time here – the fundamental shift that President Trump has taken with respect to China, no longer tolerating their misbehavior and the risk they’re creating to the United States. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that they would prefer a president that didn’t take that approach.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your time. I want to thank you for everything you’re doing to stand up to China, because it’s so important. The threat that they pose to this country and to all of our citizens is so understated, and I know how hard you fight every day to make sure that the U.S. interests are protected. So thank you for everything that you’re doing.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Sean, thank you. That’s very kind. God bless you. Have a great day.
QUESTION: You too. Thank you.?