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July 16, 2020
Notes from the Pentagon

Pompeo hits Huawei execs
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced new visa restrictions on Chinese telecommunications executives, including those from the controversial Huawei Technologies.

Visa limits are being slapped on Chinese people who are linked to technology companies doing business with foreign regimes engaged in human rights abuses.

“Companies impacted by today’s action include Huawei, an arm of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] surveillance state that censors political dissidents and enables mass internment camps in Xinjiang and the indentured servitude of its population shipped all over China,” Mr. Pompeo said.

“Certain Huawei employees provide material support to the CCP regime that commits human rights abuses,” he said in a statement.

The action puts telecommunications companies around the world on notice that “if they are doing business with Huawei, they are doing business with human rights abusers,” Mr. Pompeo said.

The action is the latest effort to counter Huawei’s bid to corner the world market on emerging 5G technology.

Britain’s government announced this week it has banned all new Huawei gear and will remove all Huawei equipment in the country by 2027. The move followed pressure from the United States to end London’s use of Huawei gear over electronic spying concerns.

Mr. Pompeo said banning Huawei in Britain was not about commercial competition but is needed to protect information.

British security authorities, like those in the United States, concluded that Huawei equipment cannot protect personal and public information.

“Information that transits across these untrusted networks that are of Chinese origin will almost certainly end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said in a meeting with reporters.

The U.S. also is seeking extradition from Canada of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer who is charged with lying to investigators about the company’s extensive financial dealings with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Notice of the visa restrictions comes as part of the Trump administration’s hardline policy toward China.

President Trump this week announced the end of Hong Kong’s favorable trade status after Beijing imposed a new national security law that effectively ended the former British colony’s independent system of government.

Mr. Pompeo said the signing into law of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and other executive branch actions were based on China’s undermining the rule of law on the island.

Mr. Pompeo noted that “if China treats Hong Kong as one country and a single system, so must we.”

“[Chinese Communist Party] General Secretary Xi Jinping made a choice to violate the Chinese Communist Party’s promises to Hong Kong … that were made in a U.N.-registered treaty,” he said. “He didn’t have to do that; he made that choice. We have to deal with China as it is, not as we wish it to be.”

Mr. Pompeo praised Britain’s decision to ban Huawei gear. “The U.K. joins the United States and now many other democracies in becoming ‘clean countries’ — nations free of untrusted 5G vendors,” he said.

“In the same way, many major telecom companies like Telefonica, Telco Italia, and NTT have become ‘clean carriers.’”

Taking a stand in South China Sea
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the tougher new U.S. policies toward China being adopted across other federal agencies, notably the Justice Department, which is cracking down on Chinese espionage and technology theft, as well as the White House National Security Council, with its efforts to end Chinese exploitation of American pension funds.

This week the administration announced that China’s expansive maritime and territorial claims to own most of the South China Sea are illegal.

Mr. Pompeo said the new policy makes “crystal clear” the sea is not China’s maritime empire.

“If Beijing violates the international law and free nations do nothing, then history shows that the CCP will simply take more territory,” he said at the State Department. “That happened in the last administration.”

“What the CCP does to the Chinese people is bad enough, but the free world shouldn’t tolerate Beijing’s abuses as well,” Mr. Pompeo added.

The formal declaration is a setback for Chinese efforts to encroach on the international waterway that is used for several trillion dollars of international trade annually.

Asked to explain the new tougher policies Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo said what is significant is that the “conversation has changed.

“That conversation is different than we’ve had, frankly, for decades between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

“I think Chinese leadership understands it is no longer the case that it’s going to be acceptable that the United States is simply going to allow the important commercial relationships that we have between our two countries to put the American people at risk, and that’s what had happened.”

Multiple administrations for both Democratic and Republican presidents allowed China to engage “in behavior that was radically unreciprocal, enormously unfair to the American people, and frankly, put America’s national security at risk,” he said.

The Trump administration has begun to turn that posture around although more work needs to be done. But the new policies are a “marked reversal” of past engagement and conciliation with Beijing, he said.

Mr. Pompeo said he believes the new policies are having an impact in changing Chinese government behaviors.

“We will continue to do the things we need to do to make sure that the American people are safe and secure and that we have a set of fair and reciprocal relationships,” Mr. Pompeo said.

“That’s the end-state desire. We want good things for the people of China. We have a Chinese Communist Party that is putting freedom and democracy at risk by their expansionist, imperialist, authoritarian behavior. That’s the behavior that we’re trying to see changed.”

The secretary of state again criticized Beijing for covering up the early outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a regime that failed to disclose information they had about a virus that’s now killed over 100,000 Americans, hundreds of thousands across the world, cost the global economy trillions and trillions of dollars, and now is allowing the World Health Organization to go in to conduct what I am confident will be a completely, completely whitewashed investigation,” he said.

China needs to conduct a thorough investigation of how the virus began in Wuhan after stonewalling on where it originated and how Chinese authorities destroyed virus samples.

“The Chinese Communist Party talks about win-win and cooperation,” Mr. Pompeo said. “Cooperation isn’t about nice language or summits, or meetings between foreign ministers. It’s about actions, and that’s the expectation that we are setting for the Chinese Communist Party. We need to see fair, reciprocal responses.”

Navy warship Passes Spratlys
The Navy wasted no time in testing out the new U.S. policy declaring China’s broad maritime claims in the South China Sea to be illegal.

A day after the State Department announced the policy shift from one of voicing neutrality in South China Sea disputes, the guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson sailed close to the Spratly Islands.

“This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan,” said Cmdr. Reann Mommsen, spokeswoman for the Seventh Fleet.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” she added.

The warship passage followed high-profile dual aircraft carrier operations in the sea last week by the battle groups headed by the USS Reagan and USS Nimitz.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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