Pompeo: China uses disinformation to split Europe, US

FILE – In this June 11, 2020, file photo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the State Department in Washington. The Trump administration is ramping up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his inner circle with a raft of new economic and travel sanctions for human rights abuses. (Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that China is behind a “fear in Europe” that Europeans should choose between the United States and China by “pushing disinformation and malicious cyber campaigns … to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Europe.”

“It’s the Chinese Communist Party that’s forcing the choice,” Pompeo said during an online conference on democracy held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Pompeo who earlier this week met with a senior Chinese official in Hawaii where he held closed-door talks as relations between the two nations have plummeted over numerous disputes, said “Europe faces a China challenge” as does the rest of the world.

Washington and Beijing are at odds over trade, China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, the status of Hong Kong and increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. China has become a key issue in the 2020 presidential campaign with President Donald Trump and his supporters seeking to make the administration’s tough stance with Beijing a main foreign policy selling point.

Last month, Trump and Pompeo announced that the U.S. would be rescinding special trade and economic privileges it had extended to Hong Kong after the former British territory reverted to Chinese control in 1997. The move was in response to Beijing’s decision to impose strict new national security laws limiting the right to free speech and assembly similar to those on the mainland.

Pompeo also noted that the Chinese Communist Party “wants you to throw away the progress we in the free world have made, through NATO and other institutions — formal and informal — and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.”

However, if the party “wants to rise, they need to do so on a Western set of rules … then the world will be a better place,” hinting the solution was democracy and giving Chinese people liberties.

Also speaking at the online event was Pompeo’s predecessor, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who lashed out at Trump, saying “every country in the world” should care about access to Chinese markets, hampered by because of trade restrictions.

“Donald Trump is right to raise that issue (with Beijing). But that is all he has done. He raised it and then he walked away from it. And now we see in John Bolton’s book, he just didn’t walk away from it. He was ready to trade help for his re-election for buying more goods,” Kerry said. “And he said if you buy more goods that is the end of the trade issue. No, it is not the end of the trade issue. So the president’s policy is not correct.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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