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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.

Excerpts:

  • “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.

Go deeper: FBI says Chinese consulate sheltering fugitive researcher

Go deeper

FBI arrests 5 alleged agents of Chinese government

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FBI charged eight people on Wednesday for acting as Chinese agents and said the defendants — five of whom were arrested — stalked and harassed U.S. citizens in an attempt to get them to return to China.

Why it matters: These are the first charges of their kind, FBI director Christopher Wray said at a Wednesday press briefing. The charges include conspiring to violate law on interstate stalking on behalf of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.