Pompeo speaks at the Nixon Library. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aimed directly for Xi Jinping in a speech Thursday night, calling the Chinese leader "a true believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology" and a would-be global hegemon.
Background: Pompeo's was the last in a quartet of speeches from top Trump administration officials laying out what they portray as a battle for the survival of the free world against Beijing and its enablers — including more dovish allies and major U.S. companies.
Pompeo spoke at the Nixon Library, symbolically slamming the door on five decades of U.S. engagement with China that began with Nixon.
- “If we want to have a free 21st century — and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams — the whole paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done."
- “We must induce China to change in more creative and assertive ways because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.”
- "General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside China forever unless we allow it."
- “We’re all still wearing masks and watching the body count rise because the [Chinese Communist Party] failed in its promises to the world."
My thought bubble: There's something discordant about this rhetorical onslaught from the administration, given we're months away from an election and the president's attention is elsewhere (as Pompeo was wrapping up, Trump canceled the Jacksonville convention).
- Historians of the future tracing the breakdown of U.S.-China ties may ultimately pay the speeches more heed than many do today.