China’s support for Russia is ‘tragic,’ says Mike Pompeo

The former secretary of state sat down with RFA to discuss Hong Kong, Taiwan and the war in Ukraine.
By Kelis Wong for RFA Cantonese
2024.05.15
Washington
China’s support for Russia is ‘tragic,’ says Mike Pompeo Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party hearing on Chinese government support for American adversaries, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Stephanie Scarbrough/AP

Amid ongoing repression of political freedoms in Hong Kong, the upcoming Taiwanese presidential inauguration and a planned meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down with Radio Free Asia’s Cantonese service for an interview. 

The following has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Radio Free Asia: In your time as U.S. secretary of state, Hong Kong witnessed mass protests, and you informed Congress that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China. Four years later, how do you evaluate the situation there?

Mike Pompeo: Unfortunately, the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate. This was such a special place for so long, and there were agreements in place that its autonomy was supposed to last for much longer – and the Chinese Communist Party viciously violated that by attacking young people and by beating protesters. 

Ultimately, by just breaking down the rule of law, the right to the court system that for so long made Hong Kong a place where the financial community came and business flourished, that no longer exists, and it continues to deteriorate. The freedom for the people that live there is decreasing and it breaks my heart because had the West done more, we might have extended the period of freedom and autonomy for the people of Hong Kong. Sadly, that's no longer the case.

RFA: Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit China tomorrow. How big of a threat do you think the China-Russia alliance poses to the world today?

MP: Well, you have two dictators working together. If you're a Ukrainian mother, this is tragic because the Chinese Communist Party is providing material assistance to the Russian invasion in Europe. And so the risk of these two working together is great. 

There are strategic responses that could be taken to diminish their capacity to do that, but if you think about the money that underwrites the Russian war effort, the aggressive barbaric war effort in Ukraine, much of that money is coming from China today. They're buying Russian energy. They're providing them with both military tools and commercial benefits that allow Putin to continue his assault in Europe.

RFA: Taiwan will formally welcome a new president on May 20. What importance do you assign to the inauguration of Taiwan's fresh leadership, especially concerning regional stability? 

MP: First of all, it’s exciting – when another democracy holds an election, and it's free and fair, and they compete really hard, and there's a new leader. It's a glorious thing to send a message to the world of the freedom and independence of the people of Taiwan. 

I'm thrilled that I'm getting a chance to be at the inauguration to celebrate alongside this new leadership team. The new leadership will put Taiwan first, just as we put America first, and that's wholly appropriate. I hope that they'll work to grow their economy. I hope they will continue to take seriously the obligation that the Taiwanese people have to protect themselves from the Chinese Communist Party threat. 

Then I hope that American leadership will continue to recognize the important role of Taiwanese independence in the global strategic order. It benefits every American family, benefits every family in Japan and South Korea to have the Taiwanese as a great partner in security in the Pacific. 

RFA: I’m going to return to Hong Kong. Some economists argue Hong Kong is “over,” due to the two national security laws. Do you believe there is potential for Hong Kong to be revived?

MP: We always pray and hope. But there's no reason to believe that Xi Jinping is going to release his death grip and instead will ultimately destroy the economic and political well being of the people that live in Hong Kong. You can see that's his intention. He can't tolerate any freedom. He can't tolerate the risk that somebody will say something that will put him in the position we know to be true, which is that he’s totally disconnected from the Chinese people. 

Xi Jinping no more represents the Chinese people and their will and certainly not the people of Hong Kong, and so I, too, think Hong Kong is from an era gone by. It breaks my heart that it is so, but you can see politics driving Xi Jinping to continue to increase the pressure and restrict freedoms in Hong Kong and what will follow from that is that there's no rule of law. Then Hong Kong is no different than the rest of mainland China in terms of taking economic risk, and you will see economic activity reflect that all the time. 

RFA: Google and YouTube decided yesterday to honor a Hong Kong court’s decision to remove a protest song from the internet. What do you think the U.S. government can or should do?

MP: From a business perspective, I understand that – if they're going to participate in those economies – American companies have got to comply with the law that's in those places. But the United States government has a role here too, and our response should not be to permit the Chinese Communist Party to dictate to these institutions that are providers of information to people all across the globe. 

When the Chinese Communist Party behaves that way, the United States government should take responses, whether that comes in the form of sanctions, whether that comes in the form of laws – we've done this with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, we often tell American businesses the ways that they can behave around the world. 

When the U.S. government does that, I'm confident these businesses – whether it's a big American company or a small one – will comply with the U.S. laws. We have a lot of capacity to shape how these companies operate inside of China, including inside of Hong Kong.

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