FPI / February 9, 2020
China’s operatives to the United States seek to tear down American values and promote communism, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a gathering of U.S. state governors on Saturday in remarks that were blunt and raised eyebrows.
“Competition with China is happening. It’s happening in your state,” Pompeo told the 44 governors in attendance. “In fact, I’d be surprised if most of you in the audience had not been lobbied by the Chinese Communist Party directly.”
China’s operatives are not only monitoring U.S. state government officials, but at least one of the communist nation’s think tanks is compiling dossiers on how likely the officials are to cooperate with China, Pompeo said.
“They’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous,” said Pompeo, describing a report put out by the Chinese think tank last year. “I’ll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed in the report are referenced by name.”
“And, in fact, whether you are viewed by the [Communist Party of China] as friendly or hardline, know that it’s working you, know that it’s working the team around you,” Pompeo said.
“We can’t ignore China’s actions and strategic intentions,” Pompeo said while addressing the National Governors Association winter meeting. “The Chinese government has been methodical in the way it’s analyzed our system… it’s assessed our vulnerabilities and it’s decided to exploit our freedoms, to gain an advantage over us at the federal level, the state level and the local level.”
Some Chinese activities, like Confucius Institutes which spread Chinese government propaganda in the U.S., require a hyper-vigilance from governors, Pompeo said.
“Chinese Communist party officials, too, are cultivating relationships with county school boards and local politicians — often through what are known as ‘Sister City Programs’ … This competition is well underway,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also spoke about China’s campaign to recruit U.S. scientists and academics to share vital secrets in exchange for monetary gain through their “Thousand Talents Plan,” a campaign he said has already targeted scientists and professors on campuses such as Virginia Tech and Harvard and triggered investigations by the Department of Justice.
Pompeo also explained how Beijing pressures Chinese students in the U.S. to keep an eye on their fellow countrymen and report back to the communist government about their activities.
“China’s propaganda starts even earlier than college. China has targeted K-12 schools around the world,” he said. “Do you know that we have no ability to establish similar programs in China? We should have reciprocity in all things. Today they have free reign in our system and we’re completely shut out from theirs… Beijing knows that today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders.”
In his address to the governors, Pompeo also cited a letter from a diplomat at the Chinese Consul in New York to the speaker of an unnamed state legislature, advising that U.S. officials refrain from independent interaction with Taiwan.
“You add a diplomat from China, assigned here to the United States, a representative of the Chinese Communist Party, in New York City, sending a letter urging that an American elected official shouldn’t exercise his right to freedom of speech,” he explained.
Pompeo told the governors to verify business inquiries and “not to make separate individual deals” with China that could “undermine national policy.”
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said following Pompeo’s speech: “His word was simply to be cautious. And obviously when you’re dealing with a communist nation that doesn’t have the same regard for freedom that we do, caution is a good word.”