Selected Remarks of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo during the ASEAN summit in Bangkok, Thailand regarding U.S. economic engagement in Asia to confront Communist China
SECRETARY POMPEO: Human flourishing only really blossoms when governments step back. The Indo-Pacific region only really took off when nations adopted the formula that I talked about at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Amsterdam this past summer. It’s really very simple: property rights, the rule of law, lower taxes, an overall lighter touch from government regulation.
That’s when the Asian tigers roared and cubs stood on their own.
That was as true in Mainland China as it was in Singapore, as it was in Taiwan, and now here in Thailand.
Homegrown giants like Samsung, Honda, Taiwan Semiconductor, Mahindra & Mahindra, and so many more emerged.
We want to see this kind of growth across all of Southeast Asia, for countries big and small. And we know – we know because we’ve seen that regional prosperity goes hand-in-hand with innovation, with good governance, and with the rule of law.
And so the Trump administration is invested in the sovereignty, in the resilience, and prosperity of every Southeast Asian nation. And not only that, not only that, we want to strengthen and expand our relationship here.
We want a free and open Indo-Pacific that’s marked by the core tenants of the rule of law, of openness, of transparency, of good governance, of respect for sovereignty of each and every nation, true partnerships.
We also believe in human rights and freedom. The current unrest in Hong Kong clearly shows that the will and the voice of the governed will always be heard.
The United States today has the strongest economy in the world, and our consumers are driving demand for your products. In contrast, China’s economy is entering a new normal – a new normal of ever-slower growth.
China’s problems are homegrown, but President Trump’s confrontation of China’s unfair trade practices has helped shine a light on them. We’d like our trade matters resolved as quickly as possible. All we want, all President Trump has ever asked for, is for China to compete on a level playing field with everyone, not just with the United States. This will benefit not only us, but you, and the global trading system as well.
MS AMIN: Good morning, Secretary Pompeo. Welcome back, your third trip to Asia. That shows some commitment to the region after what’s been said.
You talked about building ties with Southeast Asia, with Asia, deepening ties and deepening trade. And yet, this morning we woke up to President Trump intending to slap 10 percent tariffs on additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. That doesn’t bode well for the world, not for Asia, not for Southeast Asia.
What happened during those talks? Which people say something was achieved because there are plans for the talks in September. How bad were they?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So there are talks that will begin in Washington in September. But back to first principles. For decades, China has taken advantage of trade, taking advantage of trade versus the United States of America, and taking advantage of trade versus countries in Asia and Southeast Asia, and it’s time for that to stop. And President Trump has said we’re going to fix this, and to fix it requires determination, and that’s, I think, what you saw this morning. The President is determined to achieve this outcome.
What we’re asking for is really easy. Indeed, the Chinese had agreed to it at one point, and then walked away from the deal.
MS AMIN: So what is it? Is it Huawei at the crux of it? Can there be a compromise?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, no. It’s not about – this is far bigger than that. This is about the central premise of how trade will be conducted around the world. Is it okay for a nation that was once developing to continue to take the advantages when they’re no longer in that status? Is it okay for a nation to put on enormous tariffs when the other counter-party to the trading arrangement won’t do that? Is it acceptable to put tariffs and barriers on American companies investing in China when the United States is wide open to those investments?
All we have asked for – it’s really simple. It’s what you – it’s the golden rule. It’s what you teach your kids, right? Do unto others. We want fairness, evenness, reciprocity. These are core concepts. They’re what I spoke about. And when that happens, Asia will thrive, Southeast Asia will thrive, the United States global trading system will thrive. But it cannot be the case that a nation uses protectionism to protect its own goods and uses predatory tactics to deny others’ economies the chances to grow.
MS AMIN: At what cost? We’re seeing PMIs around the world already easing. We’re seeing countries around the world – well, revising downwards growth projection. I mean yes, the U.S. is in a good position leading global growth, but with Trump, President Trump is saying that he will tax the hell out of China. There are negative implications.
SECRETARY POMPEO: There have been negative implications of decades of bad behavior on the part of China.
MS AMIN: When you take a look at how the U.S. —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Negative implications for every business in this room, and we’ll fix it.
MS AMIN: There’s greater scrutiny right now on Chinese companies, especially through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., of which you play a huge role. When you take a look at the Bloomberg data, it suggests that there are about 173 Chinese companies worth about $750 billion actively listed in the U.S., 750 – just Chinese companies in the U.S. Could you be sending a negative message to these companies who are interested in putting money in your country?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No. We welcome capital that comes to America every day, all day. What we want to make sure is the basis on which that capital flows into the United States. We want to make sure that American capital that wants to come to this region, to China, can do so on a fair and even basis, and we want to make sure that capital doesn’t pose a national security threat to the United States of America. Those are – that’s a low bar. Those are simple standards. They’re what every nation must do to protect its own sovereignty.
And so no, the message we’re sending them is, “Come. Come to America. Participate. Do so with the rule of law. Do so through transparency. Don’t subsidize those countries. Don’t create champions through – with political objectives. Make them economic objectives. And when you do, many Chinese companies will come to America, compete, and be very, very successful. And we welcome that.
MS AMIN: Some (inaudible), however, say that the crux of this U.S.-China trade tensions is actually a fundamental misunderstanding of how the U.S. views China, that China today is different from the China of 20 years ago, and that China today needs time to reform and reform in its own time. Is there a misconception in those views?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I’m not sure how to respond to – the other night – I had a chance to be with Dr. Kissinger the other day. He came to the State Department to celebrate our 230th anniversary, and we were talking about this very issue, this idea that China would, if their economy opened up, that they would begin to compete in a fair, transparent way. Well, that hasn’t happened, and so that’s what we’re driving for. It’s really elemental.
MS AMIN: In your conversations, if there is one thing China needs to do right now to avert further tariffs, what would that be?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah —
MS AMIN: If just one first step that needs to be taken.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I’m not directly involved in the trade negotiations, but there was an agreement on the table that would have put us in a really, really good place. So as a starting point, they could come back to at least where they were that day.
MS AMIN: You touched on Hong Kong earlier, and you talked about how the government needs to listen. There are murmurings out there suggesting that perhaps there is a congregation of troops just on the border waiting to make its way if things turn for the worse. Can you envision that happening?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I think President Trump has been pretty clear. We’ve asked China simply to do the right thing. America has a long tradition of making sure that every citizen has the right to express their conscience, their views. We hope that’s the case all around the world, and that is true in China as well.
And so I hope that the way things proceed in Hong Kong will proceed in a way that is not violent. That’s not constructive for any of the parties in the region. And we hope that everywhere citizens want to voice their views – whether those are in support of a particular government or in opposition to a particular government – they’ll be permitted to do so.
MS AMIN: But President Trump also made it clear that it is a Chinese issue, it’s a Hong Kong issue. Should the PLA make its way across the border into Hong Kong, into the streets of Hong Kong, would the U.S. exercise any military presence? Would it exercise its own judgment to make its way and defend Hong Kong?
SECRETARY POMPEO: One thing this administration has been really good about is not tipping our hand to what we will or won’t do, and I’m going to do that here this morning.
U.S. Department of State