The United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke on June 19, 2020, at the virtual Copenhagen Democracy Summit, an annual forum that promotes democracy. In his concluding speech of this two-day event, he reiterated the threat from communism to the entire world and called for efforts to end it.
Pompeo’s speech signals continued support from the U.S. and other Western countries for democracy and freedom of belief. During the press conference on June 10 for the release of the “2019 International Religious Freedom Report,” Pompeo had talked about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and other groups of faith in China.
Anders Rasmussen, former Danish Primer Minister and secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), hosted the summit. This year’s summit theme was Defending Democracy during COVID-19 – Transatlantic Perspectives. Pompeo’s speech, titled “Europe and the China Challenge,” is available on the website of the U.S. State Department.
Also on June 19, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning China’s imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong and urged member states to respond such as filing a case against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the Intentional Court of Justice (ICJ).
High Cost of Compromising Principles
Having served as a soldier patrolling along the Iron Curtain between West and East Germany, and later as an officer of U.S. intelligence services, Pompeo knows that democracy did not come easy.
“The rising tide of democracy in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union 30 years ago made us believe – perhaps reasonably – that the spread of freedom in every nation was inevitable,” he remarked, “So we engaged. We opened ourselves to an authoritarian regime that we knew was hostile to democratic values.”
Pompeo commented that the CCP “bet that it could take advantage of our goodwill while assuring us they wanted a cooperative relationship. As Deng Xiaoping said, ‘Hide your strength,’ and ‘bide your time.’”
The West’s collaboration with the CCP failed to change it, and it continues the human rights violations in China and plans to end long-enjoyed freedoms in Hong Kong. But the CCP damage is not limited to China or Chinese people. “It impacts us all. It lied about the coronavirus, and then let it spread to the rest of the world while pressuring the World Health Organization to assist in a cover-up campaign – by the way, a failure of transparency that continues even today,” explained Pompeo.
“Now hundreds of thousands of people have died and the global economy is decimated. Even now, months into the pandemic, we don’t have access to a live virus, we don’t have access to facilities, and information about patients in December in Wuhan remains unavailable,” he added, “It’s pushing disinformation and malicious cyber campaigns to undermine our governments to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe, and is saddling developing nations with debt and dependency.”
On top of that, the military background of technology companies such as Huawei also poses serious threats. “Every investment from a Chinese state-owned enterprise should be viewed with suspicion,” he remarked.
A Choice Between Freedom and a Totalitarian Regime
Pompeo said like other countries, Europe also faces a China challenge. On the surface, it’s a choice of siding with the U.S. or China, when in reality “it’s [a choice] between freedom and tyranny.” Europe and the U.S. have common ground on this issue. “There’s also no way to straddle these alternatives without abandoning who we are. Democracies that are dependent on authoritarians are not worthy of their name,” he noted.
Despite constant pressure and intimidation from communist China, Pompeo said he has confidence, “Democracy is strong. We defeated fascism. We won the Cold War.” Nonetheless, there is no reason to become complacent, and “it does require careful stewardship and constant vigilance.” In addition to a new Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China from European leaders, countries including Denmark, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Sweden, and other NATO allies have also stood against the CCP.
Safeguarding freedom is not easy. “The whole world can see how we have tough debates, like my country’s having right now,” Pompeo explained, “But that struggle reflects a commitment to fundamental values and our constant striving towards a more perfect union. It’s who we are, and we share those values with our European friends.”
During questions and answers, he once again emphasized the new mindset on communism. “America is engaging in a response to the Chinese Communist Party and aggression in a way that America has not done for the past 20 years,” he explained, “It’s no longer enough to listen to what the Chinese Communist Party is saying. We can see their actions. …they disappeared doctors, they squirreled information away, and they denied the world the access it needed to respond to this virus in a way that could have reduced a lot of risk and a lot of costs.”
In the end, he added U.S. policy is not to bring a negative impact to Chinese people, but to aim at the CCP. Since the CCP uses divide and conquer tactics, Pompeo called for Western countries to join forces for a better outcome.
European Parliament Resolution
The resolution passed by European Parliament on June 19 was part of the series of actions that address human rights conditions in China, reported Quartz in an article on June 19 titled, “Parliaments are on the frontlines of Europe’s face-off with China.”
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic caused by the CCP’s cover-up, the European Union has been discussing supply chain diversification and reevaluating the Chinese firm’s role in future 5G networks.
In particular, the new resolution calls for the release of a Swedish bookseller who published books criticizing the CCP and for the reconsideration of the EU’s position on the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In addition, it calls on EU countries to resolve the Hong Kong issue with Magnitsky-style sanctions and international channels such as the United Nations and the ICJ.
Human rights conditions have continued to deteriorate in China. Yu Wensheng, a human rights lawyer in Beijing, recently received a four-year term in prison. “While the Chinese government’s zero-tolerance policy towards critics is well-known, the secret sentencing of yet another human rights lawyer marks a new low for what is left of the rule of law in China,” wrote a press release from Amnesty International on June 17, adding Yu had previously represented another human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, as well as Falun Gong practitioners.]]>