China is using economic means to coerce countries into lopsided deals, says Pompeo

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China related Remarks by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in his speech “The United States and Greece: Showing the Way Forward”

Secretary Pompeo: It’s exciting that our renewal has arrived at this important moment. And as President Trump at the United Nations General Assembly just last week, “our time is one of great contests, high stakes, and clear choices.”

And that’s just as true for the Eastern Mediterranean as it is for the rest of the world.

Take the Balkans, which remain an area of strategic competition.

Take Russia, which undermines the sovereignty of your neighbors, it tries to stifle religious freedom for many Orthodox believers.

Take the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose terrorist proxies have destabilized the Middle East, turned Lebanon into a client state, and helped create a refugee crisis that continues to impact Greece to this day.

Take China – China, which is using economic means to coerce countries into lopsided deals that benefit Beijing and leave its clients mired in debt.

Take, too, the fierce competition for energy resources – which could create serious economic and strategic instability in this region.

What’s great about each of these is that we are seeing Greece take on these challenges, showing the way forward.

You’ve secured the Prespa agreement. It’s a step towards stability in the Balkans.

You’ve upheld sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

You’ve refused an Iranian ship filled with oil, oil for the Assad dock in Greek harbors.

And you’re taking a hard look at the risks of allowing China to build sensitive 5G networks.

Instead, you’ve made good decisions. You’ve grown ties with Israel to secure energy supplies.

And you’re also beginning to see the world just as we do.

Let’s continue to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, until that regime becomes a normal nation.

Let’s take the EU seriously when it calls China a “systemic rival.”

Let’s uphold the rule of law and build partnerships with free nations, so that we can extract energy resources in a peaceful and coordinated way.

MODERATOR: Okay, makes sense. You mentioned China before in your speech, and you called it a “systemic rival.” So the U.S. has warned its allies to avoid Chinese companies and Chinese intervention in infrastructure projects. Considering the fact that China already owns Greece’s biggest port and is investing heavily in the whole region, how concerned are you about that? Is it something that you have discussed with the Greek Government? And also, another factor: Greece is coming out of a steep crisis, and urgently needs foreign direct investment. So taking this into account, how realistic is to expect that it will surpass this big investor?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I am confident that the Greek people and the Greek Government will make good decisions about when and how, or if to take Chinese investments. A sovereign nation, it’ll make its own decisions; we fully respect that. Having said that, sometimes when a deal looks too good to be true, it turns out it is. And when the Chinese show up with cheap money – and I will tell you, the number of nations that I have talked to who have said, “You know what, it turns out they built a big energy project and it produces nearly nothing,” – they showed up and said they wanted to build a bridge, and there you see it, it’s halfway finished; or better still, yeah, they finished it, and six months later no one would stand behind the work product.

Greece is smart. You all will figure your way through this. I’d add only this: It is also the case that nations, sovereign countries, have a responsibility. They have a responsibility to make sure that when a country shows up with a facially commercial product but it turns out that that product is being offered for political interest – that is, you’re loaning money knowing that it is likely that you will foreclose, and take over the real estate; or you’re showing up to provide maybe a telecommunications network because you want your communist party to be able to steal all the information that’s going to move across that network – I’m confident the Greek people will be able to evaluate that, and the Greek leadership will make a good set of decisions.

It’s very important. These decisions impact every nation a great deal. We have Chinese investment in the United States that no one has suggested – least of all the national security leaders in the United States – that there are no ways that we can work with China. President Trump has said repeatedly we want China to be successful, and we want them to prosper. What we don’t want them to do is steal the property of Greek citizens. You all work too hard to create it. You’re asking to build out your high-tech sector, and if you open it up in the wrong way to China, you’ll do it, you’ll be successful, and then they’ll steal it.

I think you all will figure your way through that. And so if they show up with a commercial deal, and a European company bids, and an American company bids, and a Chinese company bids, and the Chinese company is participating in a straight-up commercial enterprise, and that’s the best offer, that’s the deal that should be taken. But it’s eyes-wide-open. And there’s a lot of countries that didn’t get that right. And so we’re spending a good deal of time making sure that the risks connected to some of the infrastructure projects that have a national security implication are fully evaluated. And so that we’re share our information, and then each country will make decisions for itself.

Source: U.S. State Department

1 COMMENT

  1. […] The Guardians Helena Smith børster støv av sine klassikere når hun bruker tittelen Xi Jinping comes to Greeks bearings gifts. Det spiller på et sitat fra Vergils verk Æneiden og lyder der «Stol ikke på grekerne, selv når de kommer med gaver,» noe som igjen naturligvis spiller på fortellingen om den trojanske hesten. Smith antyder altså at Hellas kan komme til å spille rollen som Kinas trojanske hest i Europa. Og det var jo det USAs utenriksminister Mike Pompeo mente da han i oktober 2019 advarte Hellas og andre mot en avtale med Kina som var «for god til å være sann.» […]

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