At a meeting of the National Governors Association on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent out a warning to the nation’s local and state leaders: Beware of the Chinese Communist Party and the seeds of division and mistrust they are seeking to plant inside the United States.
Pompeo warned that China already has a significant foothold in the U.S., and he said they’re sending tentacles out into nearly every level of American life in an effort to promote their propaganda and destroy democracy.
“We can’t ignore China’s actions and strategic intentions,” he said. “The Chinese government has been methodical in the way it’s analyzed our system. It’s assessed our vulnerabilities and it’s decided to exploit our freedoms, to gain an advantage over us at the federal level, the state level and the local level. Competition with China is happening. It’s happening in your state. In fact, I’d be surprised if most of you in the audience had not been lobbied by the Chinese Communist Party directly.”
He said that communist groups with ties to China are particularly good at establishing their brand at public schools and college campuses.
“Maybe some of you have heard about the time when the Chinese consulate paid the UC San Diego students to protest the Dalai Lama,” he said. “It shows depth. It shows systemization. It shows intent. Chinese Communist party officials, too, are cultivating relationships with county school boards and local politicians — Often through what are known as ‘Sister City Programs.’”
He said that wasn’t all.
“China’s propaganda starts even earlier than college. China has targeted K-12 schools around the world,” he said. “Do you know that we have no ability to establish similar programs in China? We should have reciprocity in all things. Today they have free reign in our system and we’re completely shut out from theirs. Beijing knows that today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders.”
Pompeo’s remarks echoed those of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who spoke Friday about the dangers of allowing China to cheat their way to global economic dominance.
“They’ve pioneered an expansive approach to stealing innovation through a wide range of actors,” Wray said in Washington. “They’ve shown that they’re willing to steal their way up the economic ladder at our expense.”
Wray said that while the FBI was currently investigating more than 1,000 instances of Chinese technology theft, combating the threat required the participation of every American with skin in the game. He called on U.S. companies to carefully inspect their supply lines and make sure their IPs are not vulnerable to Chinese theft in the future.
“What it does mean is that when China violates our criminal laws and well-established international norms, we are not going to tolerate it, much less enable it,” he said. “The Department of Justice and the FBI are going to hold people accountable for that and protect our nation’s innovation and ideas.”