QUESTION: Let’s go to the phones right now. Welcome back to the Simon Conway Show, right across the Midwest. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, welcome back. How are you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Simon, it’s great to be with you. I understand you were engaged this weekend. Congratulations.
QUESTION: Wow. Yes. (Laughter.) And they say the government is watching you. Yes, I am, sir. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) Good for you.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.
QUESTION: That’s very kind of you. I’m not really sure where to start. I think I want to start with my favorite conspiracy theory, which I’ve seen from the land of my birth, and it involves Mercer, the very cute puppy that you have. Have you seen this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I know Mercer well after 16 weeks. Yes.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) Yes. She’s a very good-looking dog. So the BBC are suggesting that the photograph of Mercer, your puppy that you put up today – this is the BBC, right, serious media in theory – they’re saying that you put that up because one of Mercer’s favorite toys is Winnie the Pooh, and the Chinese president has been compared derogatorily to Winnie the Pooh. Is this Winnie the Pooh-gate, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Mercer has about 30 toys that Mercer enjoys, all of them roughly, apparently, equally depending on which one our other dog wants most, as Mercer’s first choice is the one the other dog has. So no, I imagine there were a series of stuffed animals, and they were equally – equally distributed for Mercer’s benefit.
QUESTION: Uh-huh, yes, okay. I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry. I was thinking, I’m about to talk to the Secretary of State of the United States of America; can I really start with this story? And I thought (inaudible) the BBC —
SECRETARY POMPEO: The BBC, how about that. Yes, all right. (Laughter.) I hadn’t seen that.
QUESTION: There you go.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.
QUESTION: All right, let’s get to some very serious stuff regarding China. Of course, we saw the President yesterday in the Rose Garden talking about our tougher approach. Why are we getting tough with China right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: For now 40 years, Simon, the American people have been fed a bill of goods that if we simply engage with China, that they would leave us alone and behave in a way that was consistent with how other large nations behaved. That hasn’t happened. We thought they would open up politically. That was the theory of the foreign policy establishment. It didn’t happen. President Trump has recognized that now, the actions that General Secretary Xi, the leader of China’s Communist Party, is taking are really having an impact, whether that’s on Iowa farmers or manufacturers from the Southwest or citizens who are traveling to Hong Kong. The risk is increasing, and to our democratic allies in the region, the risk to them is increasing as well. And so President Trump has simply said we’re going to respond by the simple demand that they engage in trading relationships that are fair and reciprocal; that they – when they participate in international organizations around the world they’re going to do so in a way that is transparent and open, the way that democracies do; and that when they engage in behavior like they did around the virus that emanated from Wuhan, China, that’s now killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world and destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth and has got people that can’t go back to work, can’t go back to their churches – when that happens, we’re going to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their errant behavior.
QUESTION: So the last time you and I spoke, I’m not sure if you’ll remember this, but it was right after you talked about the favored nation status – you took it away, literally the day you and I spoke. So he also went after Hong Kong yesterday because of the way the Chinese have been behaving.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the Chinese Communist Party made a commitment to – both to the United Kingdom and to the people of Hong Kong, and indeed, to the world – this was an international treaty that said that there would be a separate system there in Hong Kong and that they would be guaranteed certain rights that weren’t available in other parts of China. Now the Chinese Communist Party has welched on that deal. They’ve declined to follow through on their promise. And so to the extent China treats the people of Hong Kong as it’s a single country, we’re going to do that too. The United States will no longer give preferential treatment to Hong Kong because, frankly, it’s just going to become another communist-run city and there’s no reason to live with the fiction of all the things that we have done alongside Hong Kong because they were a place with more rule of law, more democracy, more freedom. We’d given them a certain set of benefits that were different from the remaining people inside of China. That’s no longer true, so we’ll no longer treat them any differently than we do other people inside of China.
QUESTION: Because they were supposed to have – Hong Kong was supposed to have autonomy. It clearly —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, 50 years, roughly. Yes.
QUESTION: Yeah. Clearly doesn’t do that anymore. They don’t do it. So it makes sense that we don’t treat them differently, right?
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s pretty straightforward. I think – I think everyone can understand that if it’s one country in the eyes of China, it ought to be one country in the eyes of the world and of the United States.
QUESTION: Why is the United States the – what appears to be the lone voice in the world trying to hold China accountable for their treatment of their Muslim population?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the good news is I think many countries are starting to see the magnitude of the human rights violations that are taking place there. These – there are forced sterilizations of women, forced abortions, hundreds of thousands of people held in the worst of conditions. I think the rest of the world is starting to come alongside and see this as well. I’ve talked with our friends in the United Kingdom and in Europe. I think they’re starting to understand that this is unacceptable in this century that those kinds of violations of the most fundamental rights of the citizens of China are something that impacts not only those people and not only the people of China, but it denigrates our lives as well. And so we ought to do the things that we can to convince the Chinese Communist Party not to engage in that kind of barbaric behavior.
QUESTION: Right, because as you pointed out, it’s sterilization, it’s forced abortion, it’s mandatory birth control. All that stuff is going on and almost no one’s reporting it. Certainly our mainstream media is ignoring it largely.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I hope, too, Simon, your – I think your point is well taken. And I hope, too, that Muslim countries will see that a good deal of this activity is related to the Muslims who aren’t Han Chinese, and I hope other countries will see that this is about the most fundamental, basic rights for every human being and for religious freedom and liberty. I hope other nations will come alongside. I – I’m – I observe that the tide is turning here and I’m counting on that being the case. I know there are good peoples all around the world that will share our horror at what’s taking place there.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Senators Rubio or Cruz over the —
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: — over the sanctions that the Chinese have imposed on them for this very reason, for speaking out about this particular population in China?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I have not. They also threatened to sanction Representative Chris Smith, a great defender of freedom, and then my – one of my ambassadors, governor – former Governor Sam Brownback, who runs our Religious Freedom Program here at the State Department.
I haven’t had a chance to speak with them yet, but this is indicative of the way the Chinese Communist Party sees this. The sanctions that we imposed were because there were gross violations on – for national security matters and of human rights, and they impose sanctions on the very people that were working to ensure that those citizens had those rights. It’s very perverse and I think the world will see that America is a force for good in this case, as well as many others.
QUESTION: You’re coming to Iowa. We’re excited to have you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I am. I’ll be there Friday.
QUESTION: You’re coming up this weekend, right?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m coming up Friday. I’ll be there for a couple reasons. One is tomorrow I’m going to be in Philadelphia, at the Constitution Center, unveiling a Commission on Unalienable Rights report. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time. And I want to come talk to Iowans about why this matters, why religious liberty matters, why protecting property rights matters, and how it’s connected to American foreign policy and how it impacts people in the heartland. And so I’ll be with a group from the Family Leader, and then I’ll be with the Iowa Farm Bureau to talk about trade and agricultural issues. It’s going to be a wonderful day there. I’m very much looking forward to getting back in my old neighborhood. It’s not quite Kansas, but almost.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) You’re bringing the red shoes, are you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) Yes, I am, Simon.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it’s always an honor to talk to you, sir. I’ve been given a time and I respect those time limits, because that way we get you to come back. This is indeed your (inaudible).
SECRETARY POMPEO: I promise – I promise you I’ll do that, Simon.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good luck to you and you take good care.
QUESTION: You take good care as well. And give Mercer a little extra scratch behind the ears for me as well.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll do that. Absolutely. So long, Simon.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, blessings to you. Bye-bye.
QUESTION: Take care.