During last week’s CPA Annual Meeting, Mike Pompeo gave a quick overview of his time as Secretary of State under Donald Trump, noting that it was the first time the Executive Branch took the China threat seriously. He touted CPAs work and said that it was on the right track in convincing members of Congress and the trade bureaucracies on Capitol Hill that an Asia-centric globalization is bad for American prosperity and national security.
Pompeo, the 70th Secretary of State, former Director at the CIA, was elected to four terms to represent the fourth district of Kansas in the House of Representatives. He is a fellow at the Hudson Institute today and formerly ran two manufacturing firms making equipment for the aerospace and oil and gas industries.
CPA Chairman, Zach Mottl, introduced Pompeo during a packed dinner event on a cold, damp night in Washington D.C. on April 5, saying Pompeo helped “raise the profile” on manufacturing issues in the global context of a China-facing globalization.
This is a transcript of Pompeo’s speech*.
“Good evening, everyone. Whenever I am reminded that I was the 70th Secretary of State and Donald Trump was the 45th president of the United States I am reminded of how much turnover there is in my gig. I had to check my cell phone each morning to make sure I still had a job when I was on my way to work.
What’s not to like about a prosperous America? What a great name for an organization. It was at the center of everything I tried to do in my four years…and in my town as a congressman representing south-central Kansas. We were a unique administration. I am most certainly the first and last State Secretary who was ever (banned from China). It’s not the typical background for a diplomat, but then again, I was not your typical diplomat. So I’d thought I’d spend a couple of minutes to tell you a couple of stories on what we tried to do to take on what I categorized as the greatest challenge to the United States. I would couple that with the crap they’re teaching our kids in school, but they are closely related. Let me make the case for you as to why when Xi Jinping talks about an America in decline, it’s not a passive statement. He is actively trying to make sure that what he is asserting actually becomes true.
In the winter of 2020, I was sitting in my office one day and saw that the National Governors Association was going to be in Washington that weekend. I was going to be in town. I called Governor Hogan of Maryland and then Governor Cuomo in New York…(inaudible).
We got access to a document that showed a table of names, with a list: friend or foe – or ‘we are working on you.’ I got every governor’s attention. Every one of them picked up their phone and texted their chief of staff and said, ‘I need to see that report, I need to know which one I am’ (friend or foe). I mention that because this fight with the Chinese Communist Party is inside the gates.
Some 50 years ago, Dr. Henry Kissinger traveled to China. His pet theory was if we trade more stuff, sell more trinkets, hug them, and play table tennis tournaments with them, they’ll become a nation that will be part of civilization. I don’t think anybody in this room believes that that has turned out to be true. And whatever might have happened or might have made sense in 1972 does not make sense today.
What did we do in our four years?
Well, it took us a bit to get traction, but we came to understand that the central front of this war by the Chinese Communist Party is economic. So we began to build up a toolset that would challenge the CCP. For all the dependency that the United States has on China today, they are far more dependent on us than we are on them. We should force them to recognize that.
What are those tools?
The President worked on it as part of his trade deals, but we had so many other methods. Commerce put corporations on blacklists (Entity List). I joked early today with some of you that I was Ericson’s and Nokia’s best salesman when we went after Huawei. It was an exemplar, a story. Huawei matters. It is a huge national security problem for the United States. There were Huawei signal receivers looking over Fort Riley in my home state of Kansas. That’s crazy. You should know that there are no AT&T towers looking over Chinese military bases anywhere n China.
We have our state pension funds that are invested heavily in Chinese technology that will one day put at risk your son or daughter, your niece, your nephew, your grandson, or your granddaughter if they ever go and fight a war. Whether that is with China directly or a Chinese proxy force that is walking around with a Chinese weapon system that was largely underwritten by American investors. I can assure you there are no Chinese pension funds investing in the military tools that will one day confront the Chinese government.
(Moving on) from that point, there are Chinese officials working inside American laboratories today, where they are just stealing things. I know you think this is crazy, like there is no way this is going on in the United States. But every one of these things is true and is happening with the knowledge of your government — state, federal and local. And we have turned the other cheek for decades.
It is arguable that the moment has passed us. But I am a deep believer in America, and I am (also) convinced that like Churchill said, ‘America always gets it right after they’ve exhausted all the other possibilities’, I am pretty confident that when it comes to China, we have now exhausted all the other possibilities and the American people are waking up to this.
Americans are coming to see that if it was cheap and free and easy and came from China it is still not worth the price. They’ve come to see that when I made the decision to close the largest spying operation ever conducted on the United States of America – I’m convinced of this; it was being conducted out of the then-Chinese consulate of Houston, Texas. They came to see that these friendly faces from the Chinese consulate in Houston that were showing up at their PTA meetings saying ‘here’s a check from our Friends of China organization’ or the Confucius Institute or whatever it may have been… ‘here’s a check for $10,000’ for a jungle gym or some new books for your library…that it wasn’t because they wanted your kids to be more physically fit or better readers. It was because they were trying to make friends so that our government wouldn’t do the things that were necessary to protect them; so that America would prosper.
The list of the things we can do is long. But whether it is the principles laid down by this organization (CPA), each of which makes sense and is truly just common sense, or whether it is (looking at) the trade relationships where China still has an incredible deal at the World Trade Organization. They still have Most Favored Nation status (in the U.S.) while they are underwriting a Russian government that is killing Ukrainian kids. The list of responses is long, but none of them are too hard.
America won’t be weaker; we won’t be dependent; we won’t be poorer.
Instead, we will be more secure and wealthier when we do those things. I know you all believe that. I know you all are counting on that. And I am counting on this organization and those who help underwrite it to make it all happen. (You have to) build up the Coalition in a way that can convince every stratum of the American political bureaucracy today that this is the right thing to do.
I thank you for giving me a few minutes of your time tonight.”
*Not a full transcript. The voice cut out for about 30 seconds during his recollection of speaking with governors about a China list that had their names on it. The rest is transcribed from his speech.