The United States is pushing back against stepped-up Chinese military activities near Taiwan and in the South China Sea as a means of deterring a conflict with Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.
China in recent days has conducted large-scale military exercises and provocative jet flights near Taiwan in what China’s state media say is a response to a visit to the island by a senior State Department official last week. China’s military fired four missiles into the South China Sea last week, and the People’s Liberation Army this week posted a video online showing a simulated Chinese bombing strike on the American territory of Guam.
Asked about the growing tensions in an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Pompeo blamed past policies that he said ignored threatening Chinese activities. He hinted that Washington was also ready to expand the offensive against Chinese internet companies operating in the U.S. and will seek to completely shut down a network of Chinese cultural centers in the U.S. called Confucius Institutes as soon as the end of this year.
“What we have done for decades is we have permitted the Chinese Communist Party to engage in threatening or disruptive behavior, whether that is predatory economic practices and the like, and they have continued to expand their capacity and their footprint,” he said. “The biggest risk with regard to the Chinese Communist Party is appeasement.”
President Trump, he added, has said, “Enough. We’re not going to let that happen anymore.’”
The secretary of state said in the interview that leaders in Beijing need to recognize the Trump administration’s seriousness and Mr. Trump’s commitment in pushing back against Chinese expansionism. “We watch these military activities, and we prepare,” Mr. Pompeo said. “President Trump’s been clear: We don’t want conflict with China. They say they don’t want conflict with us as well.”