Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued his theme of hostile Cold War rhetoric aimed at Beijing in a speech on Wednesday at Wisconsin’s state capitol building. Pompeo warned a group of Wisconsin state-level lawmakers about the Chinese government’s efforts to influence US state governments.
“Know that when you are approached by a Chinese diplomat, it is likely not in the spirit of cooperation or friendship,” Pompeo said. “Know too that these approaches may happen from Chinese nationals or Americans working with CCP-linked interests.”
Besides state governments, Pompeo also warned of Chinese “influence and espionage campaigns at the municipal and city levels.”
The gist of Pompeo’s speech is that the Chinese government is trying to influence local and state governments in the US through embassy workers and front groups. The diplomat admitted that other countries do this sort of thing all the time but argued that it is “fundamentally different” than what China is doing.
US-China relations are at their lowest point in decades, due largely in part to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, those tensions took center stage at the 75th UN General Assembly when President Trump said that China “unleashed” coronavirus on the world and must be held accountable.