Upping the ante on China over its expansionist policies and alleged cover-up of the COVID-19 outbreak, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pitched for a new "alliance of democracies" to counter the challenges posed by the authoritarian Chinese regime.
Echoing President Donald Trump that the US has had "enough" with China, Pompeo announced "distrust and verify" as US' new rules of engagement with the Chinese Communist Party and called on all nations to insist on reciprocity, transparency and accountability from them.
Pompeo's remarks at the Nixon Library on Thursday, titled "Communist China and the Free World's Future," cast aspersions on Beijing and its relations with Washington, nearly 50 years after President Richard Nixon became the first US president to travel to China.
The top American diplomat formally announced a reversal in the decades-old China policy, which now would be more of confrontationist in nature and organising the rest of the free world against the authoritarian Chinese regime led by President Xi Jinping.
Today China is "increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else," he said.
"Let's not repeat the same mistakes of the past. The challenge of China demands exertion from democracies those in Europe, in Africa, in South America, and especially those in the Indo-Pacific region. This isn't about containment. It's about a complex new challenge we've never faced before: The USSR was closed off from the free world. Communist China is already here, within our borders," he insisted.
"So we can't face this challenge alone. The UN, NATO, the G7, the G20, our combined economic, diplomatic, and military power is surely enough to meet this challenge, if directed properly. Maybe it's time for a new grouping of like-minded nations a new alliance of democracies," Pompeo said.
He said that if the free world did not change Communist China, the latter will change them.
There can be no return to past practices just because they are comfortable, or convenient, he noted.
Listing out an itinerary of charges against the Chinese regime, Pompeo warned that if the world did not act now, ultimately, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will erode their freedoms and subvert the rules-based order free societies have built.
"If we bend the knee now, our children's children may be at the mercy of the CCP, whose actions are the primary challenge to the free world. Xi isn't destined to tyrannise inside and outside of China forever, unless we let him," he said.
Noting that it was time for the free nations to act, Pompeo acknowledged that every nation won't approach the China challenge in the same way, nor should they.
Every nation will have to come to its own understanding of how to protect its national security, its economic prosperity, and its ideals from the tentacles of the CCP, he said.
"But I call on all nations to start by doing what America has done to insist on reciprocity, transparency, and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party a cadre of rulers that is far from homogenous. These are simple but powerful standards. For a long time we let the CCP set the terms of engagement. No longer. Free nations must set the tone, and operate on the same principles," Pompeo said.
He said it was a fact that some nations lacked the courage to stand with the US for the moment.
While it is true that unlike the Soviet Union, China is deeply integrated into the global economy, Beijing is more dependent on "us than we are on them", he said.
The CCP is repeating some of the same mistakes the Soviet Union made alienating potential allies, breaking trust at home and abroad, rejecting property rights and a predictable rule of law, the top American diplomat said.
He indicated that the US would now increase its engagement with the Chinese dissidents.
"Just think how much better off the world would've been if the doctors in Wuhan had been allowed to raise the alarm about the outbreak of a new coronavirus. For too many decades, our leaders have ignored or downplayed the words of brave Chinese dissidents who warned us about the nature of the regime we're facing," he told the audience.
The Chinese Communist Party, he said, cannot be treated like a normal country. Trading with China is not like trading with a normal, law-abiding nation, Pompeo said.
"We know now that doing business with a CCP-backed company is not the same as doing business with, say, a Canadian company. They don't answer to independent boards or pursue profit," he said.
"We know now that if our companies invest in China, they may wittingly or unwittingly support the Communist Party's gross human rights abuses," he added.
Early this week, the US closed down China's consulate in Houston because it was a hub of spying and Intellectual Property theft, he alleged.
"We reversed eight years of cheek turning with respect to China's adherence to international law in the South China Sea," he said.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are vital to global trade.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area.