The top U.S. diplomat claimed that China’s growing presence in the South China Sea and its global project to promote Chinese investment abroad were all linked to Beijing’s plan to promote its own defense.
Speaking at the National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Thursday that “there is an important relationship between the United States and China” but warned that “trade’s not been remotely reciprocal” due to Chinese state intervention in various business dealings. He argued this meant there was a “security component” to dealing with Beijing anywhere in the world, especially among the growing number of countries signing on to the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
“Their moving into the South China Sea is not because they want freedom of navigation,” Pompeo said. “Their efforts to build ports around the world aren’t because they want to be good shipbuilders and stewards of waterways, but rather they have a state national security element to each and every one of them.”
“The Belt and Road Initiative is no different,” he added, stating that the U.S. was “happy to compete on a fair, transparent basis under rule of law with the Chinese anywhere in the world” but was opposed to “a noneconomic offer, whether that’s through state-facilitated, below-market pricing or handing someone something knowing that you can foreclose on their nation shortly, so predatory lending practices.”