No longer will America and its leaders hope that economic engagement alone will transform Communist China’s authoritarian state into a free and open society that respects private property, the rule of law, and international rules of commerce.
To uphold the values of freedom-loving people everywhere, we’ve also called out the Chinese Communist Party for suppressing freedom of religion of the Chinese people. Millions of ethnic and religious minorities in China are struggling against the Party’s efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities.
We’ve held Beijing accountable for its treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang when, just last month, President Trump imposed visas restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials, as well as sanctions on 20 Chinese public security bureaus and 8 Chinese companies for their complicity in the persecution of Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims.
And last December, the Justice Department revealed that it had broken up a nearly four-year operation by a notorious hacking group within China’s Ministry of State Security. These Chinese government officials stole the names and data of 100,000 U.S. Navy personnel, as well as ship maintenance information, with grave implications for our national security.
And today, China’s Communist Party is building a surveillance state unlike anything the world has ever seen. Hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras stare down from every vantage point. Ethnic minorities must navigate arbitrary checkpoints where police demand blood samples, fingerprints, voice recordings, and multiple angle head shots, and even iris scans.
The international community must never forget that its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace; it protects peace on Taiwan and throughout the region.
America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.
But nothing in the past year has put on display the Chinese Communist Party’s antipathy to liberty so much as the unrest in Hong Kong.
For the last few years, Beijing has increased its interventions in Hong Kong and engaged in actions to curtail the rights and liberties of its people — rights and liberties that were guaranteed through a binding international agreement of “one country, two systems.”
President Trump has repeatedly made it clear it would be much harder for us to make a trade deal if the authorities resort to the use of violence against protestors in Hong Kong.
And to the millions in Hong Kong who have been peacefully demonstrating to protect your rights these past months, we stand with you. We are inspired by you, and we urge you to stay on the path of nonviolent protest.
As China has exercised its influence across the region and across the world, as I said last year, the Chinese Communist Party is also continuing to reward and coerce American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials to influence the public debate here in America.
Lately China has also been trying to export censorship — the hallmark of its regime. By exploiting corporate greed, Beijing is attempting to influence American public opinion, coercing corporate America.
American corporations should stand up for American values here at home and around the world.
And Beijing’s economic and strategic actions, its attempts to shape American public opinion, prove out what I said a year ago and it’s just as true today: China wants a different American President.
The American people want better for the people of China. But in pursuit of that end, we must take China as it is, not as we imagine or hope it might be someday.
And people sometimes ask whether the Trump administration seeks to “de-couple” from China. The answer is a resounding “no.” The United States seeks engagement with China and China’s engagement with the wider world, but engagement in a manner consistent with fairness, mutual respect, and the international rules of commerce.
All that Beijing is doing today, from the Party’s Great Firewall in cyberspace or to that great wall of sand in the South China Sea, from their distrust of Hong Kong’s autonomy, or their repression of people of faith all demonstrate that it’s the Chinese Communist Party that has been “de-coupling” from the wider world for decades.
America will continue to seek a better relationship with China. And as we do so, we will speak plainly, because this is a relationship that both the United States and China have to get right.
Abstracted from Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Frederic V. Malek Memorial Lecture
Edited by staff