- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is setting out an ambitious new U.S. foreign policy toward China, one that sees the ruling Communist Party as a national security threat and the force behind Beijing’s drive for global hegemony.

The new approach marks the first time in decades a senior U.S. government leader has attempted to distinguish between China’s 1.4 billion people and the authoritarian Communist Party of some 90 million members. Analysts say the secretary’s comments also directly challenge the legitimacy of the Communist Party that seized power in 1949 under Mao Zedong.

“The Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist-Leninist party focused on struggle and international domination,” Mr. Pompeo said in a major foreign policy speech in New York on Wednesday evening. “We need only listen to the words of their leaders.”

“We have a long-cherished tradition of friendship with the Chinese people,” Mr. Pompeo said in a speech to the Hudson Institute, a think tank. “But I must say that the communist government in China today is not the same as the people of China.”

Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration is rejecting policies of past administrations that ignored or played down China’s Marxist-Leninist system. He called for more directly confronting the challenge to American security posed by the Beijing regime.

Mr. Pompeo argued that the U.S. was slow to recognize the threat from China and for decades encouraged China’s rise “even when that rise was at the expense of American values, Western democracy, and security and good common sense.”

In a bid to curry favor with Beijing, the U.S. downgraded its friendship with democratic Taiwan, avoided directly discussing Chinese human rights abuses and played down ideological differences. Chinese threats to neighbors such as Vietnam and the Philippines in seeking control over the South China Sea also were not confronted vigorously enough.

China was also encouraged to join the World Trade Organization and other international organizations based on a promise from Beijing to adopt market reforms and abide by the rules of those organizations. “And all too often, China never followed through,” Mr. Pompeo said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Mr. Pompeo’s wide-ranging critique “maliciously attacked” the Communist Party and government and was an attempt to “drive a wedge between the [Communist Party of China] and the Chinese people and deliberately distorted and slandered China’s domestic and foreign policy.”

“Such remarks are by no means an embodiment of confidence and power, but rather reveal fear and arrogance,” Mr. Geng added.

Retired Navy Capt. James E. Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence director, said the speech was a significant milestone in “the unraveling of Henry Kissinger’s ‘engagement school’ that has dominated U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the PRC.”

“Secretary Pompeo word’s correctly and forcefully declared the failure of engagement policy and will surely draw Beijing’s ire, as well as its many acolytes within U.S. academic and government foreign policy circles,” Capt. Fanell said.

Mr. Pompeo argued Wednesday that U.S. officials for decades misread the direction of China’s evolution.

Successive administrations, he said, for decades accommodated China’s development “in the hope that communist China would become more free, more market-driven, and ultimately, hopefully more democratic,” he added.

Mr. Pompeo credited President Trump with the shift in policies by sounding the alarm on unfair trade and economic practices.

Militarily, Mr. Pompeo contended, the Chinese danger is increasing.

“Now we know that China threatens America’s national security by developing asymmetric weapons that threaten our strategic assets too,” he said, adding that the problem is not limited to the United States but to all nations that share American values.

The secretary said he plans to give a series of speeches in the coming months further outlining the threat posed by China’s government. The speeches will cover China’s competing ideologies and values and their impact on the United States and world. The speeches will also address China’s large-scale military buildup of both nuclear and conventional forces, a buildup critics describe as far exceeding China defense needs.

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