US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States and its allies must be more assertive in pressing the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways.
In a speech at Richard Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, Mr Pompeo said the former US leader’s concern that he had created a “Frankenstein” in opening the world to China’s Communist Party in the 1970s had been prophetic.
Mr Nixon, president from 1969-74, opened the way for the establishment of US diplomatic relations with Communist China in 1979 through a series of contacts, including a visit to Beijing in 1972.
In a major speech delivered in the wake of Washington’s order to close China’s Houston consulate, Mr Pompeo repeated US charges about China’s unfair trade practices, human rights abuses and efforts to infiltrate American society.
Mr Pompeo said China’s military had became “stronger and more menacing” and the approach to China should be “distrust and verify,” adapting former President Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” mantra about the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
“The kind of engagement we have been pursuing has not brought the kind of change inside of China that President Nixon hoped to induce,” Mr Pompeo said.
“The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it,” he said.
“We, the freedom-moving nations of the world must induce China to change … in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity,” Mr Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has hit back at Mr Pompeo’s claims that UN agency has been “co-opted by China”.
Dr Tedros was speaking after the US Secretary of State made the accusation in London.
He said such allegations are “untrue and unacceptable” and warned against politicising the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Pompeo, referring to China at a press conference on Tuesday (local time), said “you can’t go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to.
“You can’t threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas. You can’t engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organisation.”
The US formally launched a withdrawal procedure from WHO on July 8 after announcing the move in May.