China represents a threat to “our continued democracy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers while defending a budget proposal that “nearly doubles” the funding devoted to countering the communist power. He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee;
“This is a great power battle and we’re engaged in it across the world,”
Pompeo framed the U.S.-China relationship in stark terms as he noted a series of initiatives to counter Beijing’s influence internationally. The competition ranges across economic and espionage threats, as well as American support for Taiwan the last bastion of the government overthrown during the 1949 Chinese Communist Revolution and the target of an aggressive diplomatic campaign from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime.
“We understand the importance of that relationship,” Pompeo said of Taiwan. “And more importantly we have taken a much fuller view than previous administrations this is not partisan, this goes back to Republicans and Democrats alike of the concerns about the risk that China presents to American wealth creation and our continued democracy.”
The island government maintains a cosy partnership with American officials, even though the United States has not had formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 1979. President Trump signed a bill into law last year that encourages U.S. government officials to travel to the capital of Taipei.
“I don’t want to get too far out ahead of what we’re doing”
Ambassador Sam Brownback, the top envoy for international religious freedom, relied on that authorisation just weeks ago by attending a conference in Taiwan where he was critical of China’s human rights record. “I’m sure there is more to follow,” he said, in a reference to Brownback’s trip.
Pompeo also noted his efforts to convince European and Middle Eastern allies not to partner with major Chinese telecommunications companies that could cooperate with Beijing’s spy services.
The most consistent series of diplomatic clashes arise from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which the U.S. regards as a “predatory” plan to throw cash at impoverished nations in strategically significant locations in order to gain leverage over the debtor governments.
U.S. officials have been pointing to the example of Sri Lanka, where China gained sovereignty over a newly constructed port, as an example of what happens when countries bargain with the communist power.
“I think countries throughout Asia, Southeast Asia, are waking up to this concern,” Pompeo said.