New Delhi: India should “not feel alone” in its strategy to push back and stand up against an assertive “Chinese Communist Party” even as countries around the world are beginning to see the “threat posed by the Marxist-Leninist ideology”, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
Pompeo, who was in New Delhi for 26 hours along with US Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, said India is with like-minded countries such as the US, Australia and Japan, and can never feel alone in its struggle against the “Chinese Communist Party”.
“I have watched the relationship between the US, Japan, Australia and India grow, deepen, broaden. We are called the Quad but put the name aside for a moment, we are four big democracies, with big economies, with a shared view of rule of law and transparency. With these kinds of relationships, none of these countries are ever alone,” Pompeo said.
The top member of the Donald Trump cabinet also drew a parallel between what China is doing to Uighur Muslims and what Nazi Germany did to Jews in the 1930s.
Pompeo was in New Delhi for the third round of the India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue, which resulted in the signing of a key defence pact, as both sides vowed to further strengthen their strategic partnership.
Why he refers to ‘Chinese Communist Party’, not China
According to Pompeo, it is the Chinese Communist Party that follows the Marxist-Leninist ideology, and not the people of China, whom the world should be able to “confront”.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants the same thing in every place — they want to control and dominate, they want to have political influence, they want to be extractive,” the Secretary of State said.
“You see this in the Belt and Road Initiative… These are predatory economic activities, designed a little bit to build a road for someone, but mostly to get their teeth into that country, to be able to exert political influence in that place and when the time is right to make that country pay a tribute,” he continued.
“There’s a long history of the Chinese having nations that they feel owe tribute to them. This is the same model that the Chinese Communist Party has now adopted. This is dangerous for the world, and I’m confident that India and the US and other freedom-loving nations will push this back in a way that’ll make the world a more stable, safer place,” Pompeo added.
“With a shared concern about what the Chinese Communist Party wants to do… whether in the case of the Japanese, it’s the Senkaku Islands, or in the case of Australians, the present real risk in the Pacific Islands that surround it… they have imposed real burdens on Australia when Australia simply has the temerity to ask that there’d be an investigation of the virus that emanated from Wuhan. This is bullying, this is the kind of tactics the Chinese Communist Party uses, and so we just need to stand together,” he said.
Pompeo also stressed that the trouble India is facing with China, in terms of the six-month long LAC stand-off in Ladakh, in which the country lost 20 of its soldiers, is due to the Chinese Communist Party.
“The trouble in the world, the challenge whether it’s the problems currently on your (India’s) northern border or the fact that the virus escaped and the Chinese Communist Party failed to let the world know in a timely fashion to prevent untold misery from taking place,” he said.
“That wasn’t the Chinese people, that was the Communist Party, an authoritarian regime that was simply incapable of dealing with a crisis in a way that the world has every expectation, properly so, and indeed what it promised to the world. They are part of the WHO and they had an obligation to do better.”
‘General Secretary Xi’s national rejuvenation has real intent’
Pompeo, who also refers to Xi Jinping as ‘General Secretary Xi’ due to his rank in the CCP instead of ‘President Xi’, said Xi’s plan for ‘national rejuvenation’ has “real meaning, real intent”.
Asked about his subsequent visits to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Pompeo said: “The challenge presented to the world comes from this ideology that is represented by General Secretary Xi Jinping, who talks of national rejuvenation. That term has real meaning; he has real intent behind that.”
Describing that “intent”, he explained, “It is not simply to rule China. In China, it is not simply to have power throughout the first island chain, but it is an idea that says China is the middle kingdom, it is central, and should have hegemony in much a broader place than just in its own local region. That challenge is the result of the Chinese Communist Party, its Marxist-Leninist ideology, and we have to confront it in every place that we can.”
The Secretary of State added that Xi has “many titles”, and pointed out that “a lot of folks who were president for life found that the people inside of their country had a different view. Xi Jinping is the General Secretary and also the commander of their forces. He has many titles… It is the Communist Party that drives everything there. It’s not a democracy. They rule with an iron fist. They ensure their continued political pre-eminence as their primary mission set inside of their country,” he said.
World is beginning to understand Chinese challenge
Pompeo stressed that India, like other countries, is only just beginning to understand the “Chinese challenge” and the US is “guilty of that too”.
“I think they (India) do (understand the Chinese challenge)… I must say to the extent that they don’t; the US is guilty of that too. For an awfully long time, nearly every country across the world went on bended knee to China. There was a set of rules and then there was a China exception to that rule, whether it was trade and tariffs… the list is long,” he said.
“But the tide has now turned… I think the world has begun to recognise the threat posed by the ideology that emanates from the Chinese Communist Party. I think my Indian counterparts get that, I think they can see how it presents risk to the Indian people, and I think they are now inclined to work with partners throughout the region and throughout the world to prevent those bad things from happening here in India,” the Secretary of State said.
‘Uighur issue reflection of 1930s Germany’
The Donald Trump administration has come down heavily on China for its treatment of Uighurs Muslims, and maintaining concentration camps for them. The Trump administration has also imposed sanctions on several Chinese companies and top-ranking officials for Beijing’s forced detention of the Uighurs inside the country.
“When you see what’s happening in the west (of China), to the Uighur Muslims, these are the kind of things you only see in authoritarian regimes… a massive set of human rights violations,” said Pompeo.
“Every human being who sees what’s taking place in western China will be repulsed by it, will recognise that this is the worst of humanity, actions that are deeply degrading and deeply tyrannical… They remind us of what happened in the 1930s in Germany, and that the whole world — whether they are Islamic countries, or Hindu countries, or Christian countries — I hope the world will come to have a shared understanding and convince China not to do this,” he added.
On the issue of Pakistan’s refusal to recognise the Uighur problem because it’s an all-weather ally of China, Pompeo said, “We remind them (Pakistan) of what’s taking place there, and our hope that will find a pathway to speak about this openly and publicly, not for the purpose of confronting or causing harm, but for the purpose preventing this horrible set of actions that’s taking place in western China.”
Growing India-US ties
Pompeo believes the growing bilateral ties between the US and India started “long before the Chinese Communist Party started causing as much trouble it’s causing today”.
“It’s built on a set of shared understanding — we are two democracies, big democracies, vibrant democracies, with lots of different views. The relationship is based on a shared understanding on how the world works, the rule of law and transparency, trade to make two nations better,” he highlighted.
“We have a lot of Indian students who come to the United States to study; we have a deep set of ties that go far beyond the current challenges presented by Chinese Communist Party,” said the 56-year-old leader.
‘America, a shining example’
According to Pompeo, the US’ hope and expectation is that the world will follow a set of ideas that is based on the rule of law and sovereignty, where each country will make its own set of decisions.
“We hope, and our expectation is, this will be a world that is premised on the ideas that emanate from the rule of law and sovereignty; where each country gets to make its own set of decisions; a world in which individuals who want to exercise their own religious freedom will have the right to do so. These are the value sets that we hope that the world will encompass for the next 150 years,” he said.
He also said that if America does its job well, it can continue to be a “shining example” for the world to aspire for having a “real democracy”.
“If we do our job well, if America is successful in its own workings inside, then we’ll be a shining example, and that’s our history. I hope we continue to do that; I hope we continue to be this shining example for a robust debate, real democracy… This is how people are respected, this is how human dignity is respected,” he said.
“If we do that, we can be an important player. We have a big economy, innovative people, a system that promotes that innovation and rewards hard work. Those are the kind of things that we hope every nation will adopt. And when they do this, it will be a very different model than the one the Chinese Communist Party is presenting to the world.”
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