Pompeo: US Should Label China as ‘Adversary’ Rather Than ‘Competitor’ in Recognition of Growing CCP Threats

The next U.S. national security strategy should focus on the challenges of curbing authoritarianism and formally recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan to deter Chinese communist aggression, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Being in an ambiguous place is really, really dangerous,” Pompeo said during a March 28 interview with the Hudson Institute, a D.C.-based think tank. “Authoritarians will use that ambiguity against you every time. We ought to acknowledge that Taiwan is an independent nation. It’s not part of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP].” The CCP claims Taiwan is a breakaway territory, though Taiwan has been independently governed since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP. The United States currently maintains a doctrine of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan, in which it neither affirms nor denies whether it would provide military assistance to Taiwan in the event its de facto independence is threatened by the CCP. Pompeo made the comments during a discussion of the Biden administration’s forthcoming national security strategy, which is expected to be released soon but has no definitive date. For the past year, the administration has used an interim strategy that recognizes China as a “strategic competitor,” a designation first developed under the Trump administration’s national security strategy, which Pompeo helped to craft. Pompeo said that the term was likely too soft, given increasing repressive efforts by the CCP under the reign of Party leader Xi Jinping. “We used the word ‘competitor’,” Pompeo said. “I would use the word ‘adversary’ today if I were writing this myself.” Pompeo said that he did not believe the current administration understood the threat posed by the CCP, and that Washington’s decision to place issues like climate change ahead of the increasingly adversarial relationship with China sent the wrong message internationally. “The Chinese Communist Power itself understands power deeply and they respect only power,” Pompeo said. “Not too terribly long ago, President Biden was with a group of soldiers. He told those soldiers, uniformed military personnel, that the greatest security risk to the United States of America was climate change. I think that’s very telling about what he personally believes.” Pompeo said that those beliefs were directly impacting the United States’ ability to deter its adversaries. He described the current administration’s decision to send its climate envoy, John Kerry, as its first face-to-face diplomatic contact with the Chinese regime as “an enormous mistake.” Pompeo also questioned the wisdom of the Biden administration’s continued willingness to work with authoritarian regimes such as Russia, despite the latter’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine. “They’re sitting at the table today with the Russians,” Pompeo said, referencing the Biden administration’s continued diplomatic work with Russia on efforts to reinstate the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement. “It’s hard to even say that sentence with a straight face.” “That’s not strategy. That’s ignorance. It is naïve and dangerous, most importantly, to the United States.” Pompeo warned that cascading security challenges caused by such continued diplomatic acceptance of authoritarian leaders could encourage further aggression or repressive efforts by the CCP. “[The CCP] are not learning that their vision for global hegemony is at risk,” Pompeo said. “I cannot see anything that will cause Xi Jinping to change his vision for being the Middle Kingdom and being this hegemonic power.” “I think his use of hard power and [the CCP’s] capacity will only be encouraged by this.” Pompeo cautioned that pursuing a meaningful strategy was a matter of decades, not months, and that Xi and the CCP could alter course on how they intend to coerce Taiwan into unification with mainland China. “[Xi’s] tactics may well change, but his objective I can’t imagine will be altered,” Pompeo said. To that end, Pompeo said the best course of action the United States could take would be to formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, increase its training and intelligence sharing with the island, and to assist Taiwan in building out a military capability capable of ensuring enormous costs on the mainland in the event of an act of war. “[Taiwan] can see that they’re going to have to step up their capacity to make sure that they’re not the next victim of an autocratic leader who decides aggression is the solution to all that ails,” Pompeo said. Follow Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.

Pompeo: US Should Label China as ‘Adversary’ Rather Than ‘Competitor’ in Recognition of Growing CCP Threats

The next U.S. national security strategy should focus on the challenges of curbing authoritarianism and formally recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan to deter Chinese communist aggression, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Being in an ambiguous place is really, really dangerous,” Pompeo said during a March 28 interview with the Hudson Institute, a D.C.-based think tank.

“Authoritarians will use that ambiguity against you every time. We ought to acknowledge that Taiwan is an independent nation. It’s not part of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP].”

The CCP claims Taiwan is a breakaway territory, though Taiwan has been independently governed since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP.

The United States currently maintains a doctrine of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan, in which it neither affirms nor denies whether it would provide military assistance to Taiwan in the event its de facto independence is threatened by the CCP.

Pompeo made the comments during a discussion of the Biden administration’s forthcoming national security strategy, which is expected to be released soon but has no definitive date.

For the past year, the administration has used an interim strategy that recognizes China as a “strategic competitor,” a designation first developed under the Trump administration’s national security strategy, which Pompeo helped to craft.

Pompeo said that the term was likely too soft, given increasing repressive efforts by the CCP under the reign of Party leader Xi Jinping.

“We used the word ‘competitor’,” Pompeo said. “I would use the word ‘adversary’ today if I were writing this myself.”

Pompeo said that he did not believe the current administration understood the threat posed by the CCP, and that Washington’s decision to place issues like climate change ahead of the increasingly adversarial relationship with China sent the wrong message internationally.

“The Chinese Communist Power itself understands power deeply and they respect only power,” Pompeo said.

“Not too terribly long ago, President Biden was with a group of soldiers. He told those soldiers, uniformed military personnel, that the greatest security risk to the United States of America was climate change. I think that’s very telling about what he personally believes.”

Pompeo said that those beliefs were directly impacting the United States’ ability to deter its adversaries. He described the current administration’s decision to send its climate envoy, John Kerry, as its first face-to-face diplomatic contact with the Chinese regime as “an enormous mistake.”

Pompeo also questioned the wisdom of the Biden administration’s continued willingness to work with authoritarian regimes such as Russia, despite the latter’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine.

“They’re sitting at the table today with the Russians,” Pompeo said, referencing the Biden administration’s continued diplomatic work with Russia on efforts to reinstate the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement. “It’s hard to even say that sentence with a straight face.”

“That’s not strategy. That’s ignorance. It is naïve and dangerous, most importantly, to the United States.”

Pompeo warned that cascading security challenges caused by such continued diplomatic acceptance of authoritarian leaders could encourage further aggression or repressive efforts by the CCP.

“[The CCP] are not learning that their vision for global hegemony is at risk,” Pompeo said. “I cannot see anything that will cause Xi Jinping to change his vision for being the Middle Kingdom and being this hegemonic power.”

“I think his use of hard power and [the CCP’s] capacity will only be encouraged by this.”

Pompeo cautioned that pursuing a meaningful strategy was a matter of decades, not months, and that Xi and the CCP could alter course on how they intend to coerce Taiwan into unification with mainland China.

“[Xi’s] tactics may well change, but his objective I can’t imagine will be altered,” Pompeo said.

To that end, Pompeo said the best course of action the United States could take would be to formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, increase its training and intelligence sharing with the island, and to assist Taiwan in building out a military capability capable of ensuring enormous costs on the mainland in the event of an act of war.

“[Taiwan] can see that they’re going to have to step up their capacity to make sure that they’re not the next victim of an autocratic leader who decides aggression is the solution to all that ails,” Pompeo said.


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Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.