Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: A Fox News alert now, the United States leveling perhaps the most serious charge a country can face, accusing China in the last hour and a bit of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in its repression of Uyghur Muslims. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement just a short time ago. He joins us now for an exclusive interview.
Mr. Secretary, good to have you with us. Let me just read if I could from your statement. You said, quote, “I have determined that the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed genocide and crimes against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups.”
A very significant declaration, obviously one that China will oppose vigorously, but also one that sort of runs counter to what President Trump’s position has been for the last couple of years.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, John, thanks for having me on. This is a very serious and tragic set of actions that are taking place there in the western part of China. We have been talking and working on this for an awfully long time in the Trump administration. We have sanctioned officials. We have told businesses they couldn’t bring products out of this region. We’ve told businesses to be very careful that they could be too close to what’s taking place there, right.
This is forced labor. This is forced sterilizations, forced abortions – John, the kind of things that we haven’t seen in an awfully long time in this world. And we now have conducted an exhaustive review of the facts and made the determination that, in fact, the Chinese Communist Party has committed these crimes against humanity, is continuing to try and deny these people – not just the Uyghur Muslims but other faiths as well – the simple capacity to continue to exist and to create an ethnic set of activities that we haven’t seen in an awfully long time.
I’ve referred to this over time as the stain of the century. It is truly that. And today’s actions is simply a continuation of the work this administration has done to try and convince the Chinese Communist Party to cease this terrible, terrible set of human rights violations that have been taking place.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, since you made the announcement a little more than an hour ago, it has received a tremendous amount of approval in the United States Congress, particularly from your Republican colleagues. This was something that then-candidate Joe Biden proclaimed about a year ago. Now, obviously when you’re a candidate it’s much easier to say something than when you are the State Department, but some of your Republican colleagues – Ben Sasse notably – are saying, “What took so long?”
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I’m happy to accept that critique. What took so long is when you do something like this, you have to be right. You have to – and I think this will be a bipartisan analysis that will be shared by a broad swath of American leadership. Indeed, leaders all across the world I think will recognize that the United States got this right.
But John, this is a serious matter. We didn’t take it lightly. We wanted to continue to work. There were lots of vigorous discussions all across the United States Government. We talked with people all across the world. We relied on facts that came from nongovernmental organizations, journalists, other governments to make sure that we had everything just right, and we wouldn’t have done this if we weren’t convinced that these declarations, this determination that I have issued today, was proper, appropriate, and would hopefully lead to better lives for people in this region. That, in the end, John, is our objective.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you, like the President, are in the last hours of your tenure at the State Department. Looking ahead to the Biden administration, we’re wondering what we can expect. In an exclusive interview with foxnews.com, counterintelligence chief Bill Evanina saying, quote, “We have to educate America so they know what malign influence tastes like, smells like, looks like, so when they see it they can call it out. I think the challenge for the Biden administration will be to understand the scope and scale of some of the Chinese threats in the American landscape domestically and what is the best course to defeat that.”
Here we have a president-elect who not long ago said, “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man.” Do you believe that the Biden administration will be fully equipped to handle what many people say is the greatest future threat facing America?
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, I’m counting on it. More importantly, the American people are counting on it. This threat – the work that President Trump has done to identify the risk – he talked about it with tariffs and economic issues. We’ve talked about it with spies operating out of a consulate in Houston. This challenge, the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, is real; it is existential to the United States. We have to get this right. And I am counting on the next administration continuing our work, continuing to build out on the things that we have done in the exact way that the American people will demand.
I have great confidence that the American people have come to understand this challenge from the Chinese Communist Party and will expect every leader, whatever political stripe, to continue to protect and secure American freedoms.
QUESTION: Your presumed successor, Antony Blinken, begins his confirmation hearing in about an hour. He says in his opening statement, quote, “Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin … Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.”
There are some critics who are saying this sounds like Obama redux. Is he going to begin with an apology tour?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Boy, I sure hope not, John. I’m proud of this country. Our founders recognized it was an imperfect union. We all strive to be better. But this is the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization. I am proud of the work that the Trump administration has done in the Middle East, on China that we’ve been talking about. We made life better for people all across the world. We recognized that the people of Iran and North Korea deserved better, and we worked diligently to achieve that. It ought not be an America that we apologize for. We should be proud of the greatness, the uniqueness, and the exceptionalism of the United States of America.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it’s been good to talk to you. We wish you well post-administration.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, John.
QUESTION: Thanks so much for joining us exclusively today. We really appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, John. Have a good day.
QUESTION: You, too.