Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers Thursday that the “tide is turning” on China, as the U.S has led the push to ramp up international pressure on the communist regime on issues from property theft to international surveillance to the Chinese crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.
“We see the Chinese Communist Party also for what it is: the central threat of our times. Our vigorous diplomacy has helped lead an international awakening to the threat of the CCP,” Pompeo said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department's budget. “Senators, the tide is turning.”
The Trump administration has been ramping up pressure against Chinese influence across the globe since the outbreak of COVID-19, which began in China and has drawn accusations that the government covered up the seriousness of the virus until it was too late and the virus became a global pandemic.
Pompeo said that, as part of that effort, more than 30 countries and territories have become 5G “Clean Countries” in banning untrusted Chinese vendors from their 5G networks. The U.K. recently announced it had changed its stance on allowing Huawei into its networks, a move praised by the U.S.
He also noted support from countries in denouncing China’s national security law, which is being used to crack down on freedoms in Hong Kong. He went on to cite opposition by Australia to Chinese moves in the South China Sea, as well as other countries taking action to push back against Chinese security threats.
"Momentum is building to mitigate CCP threats in multilateral settings, too," he said. "All 10 ASEAN nations have insisted that South China Sea disputes must be settled on the basis of international law, including [United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea]. Japan led the G7’s condemnation of China’s national security law targeting Hong Kong. The EU condemned the law, too, and also declared China a 'systemic rival' just last year."
He went on to say that “for America’s part, no administration, Republican or Democrat, has been as aggressive in confronting China’s malign actions as President Trump’s.”
“The Department of Justice is cracking down on Chinese [intellectual property] theft. We’ve sanctioned Chinese leaders for their brutality in Xinjiang, imposed export controls on companies that support it, and warned U.S. companies against using slave labor in their supply chains," he said.
He also cited U.S. moves to close down a Chinese consulate in Houston, calling it a “den of spies” and the termination of special arrangements for Hong Kong.
The hearing comes a day after Big Tech CEOs were quizzed in a House hearing, and were frequently asked questions related to Chinese influence and their connections to the Chinese government.
Pompeo said it was “patently clear to anyone who is watching that the Chinese are engaged in intense efforts of intel property theft, including to technology.”
Elsewhere he was asked by Senate Democrats about allegations that Russia had paid bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
Pompeo was asked by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., if he had raised the matter to Russian officials, and Pompeo said he has raised “all of the issues that put any Americans at risk” to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Pompeo later pointed to military action taken against 300 Russian mercenaries who were advancing on American forces in Syria in 2019. Those fighters “are no longer on this planet,” Pompeo said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.