Pompeo says he raised China's 'coercion' of Australia in talks

US SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO
US SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO

He says he confronted Beijing diplomat over moves including barley tariffs, beef export ban

SYDNEY • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he raised China's "coercion" of Australia and other China "actions" around the world, when he met China's top diplomat in Hawaii in a six-hour frank session.

Mr Pompeo said he confronted Mr Yang Jiechi, director of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Office of Foreign Affairs, with a list of China's political moves, including slapping Australia with steep barley tariffs and banning beef exports from four abattoirs, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported yesterday.

China's actions were because Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison "had the audacity" to lead global calls for a Covid-19 probe, said Mr Pompeo at the virtual Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday. "We can see their actions," he said.

"I ticked through a few of them: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, what they're doing in India, what they've done in the economic zones along the Philippines and Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam, the coercion on Australia - when they had the audacity to demand that there would be an investigation of how this virus got from Wuhan to Milan, how this virus got from Wuhan to Teheran, how this virus got from Wuhan to Oklahoma City, and to Belgium and to Spain, and decimating the global economy," APP quoted Mr Pompeo as saying.

Mr Morrison insisted on June 11 that Canberra will not surrender to "coercion" from Beijing, after China moved to curb trade and warned students not to travel to Australia due to "racist incidents".

Mr Morrison described claims of Australian racism towards Chinese students as "rubbish".

He said Australia will "never be intimidated by threats from wherever they come".

"I'm never going to trade our values in response to coercion from wherever it comes," he told 2GB radio station.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, accounting for 36 per cent of Australian exports. It is the largest buyer of Australian iron ore and the biggest source of foreign students and tourists in Australia.

China was infuriated by Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus - a move that Beijing believed was targeted at it.

In recent weeks, China has barred imports of some Australian beef and imposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, though its officials denied these moves were retaliation.

ON CHINA'S ACTIONS

We can see their actions... Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, what they're doing in India, what they've done in the economic zones along the Philippines and Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam, the coercion on Australia - when they had the audacity to demand that there would be an investigation of how this virus got from Wuhan to Milan... and decimating the global economy.

US SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO

Mr Pompeo told the virtual summit that China lied about the coronavirus, allowed it to spread around the world and pressured the World Health Organisation to assist in a cover-up campaign, according to the AAP.

"Even now, months into the pandemic, we don't have access to a live virus, we don't have access to facilities, and information about patients in December in Wuhan remains unavailable," he said.

"Everyone in this room knows that the Chinese Communist Party strong-arms nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the CCP's surveillance state and it's flagrantly attacking European sovereignty by buying up ports and critical infrastructure," Mr Pompeo told the summit, according to the AAP.

 
 
 

Washington's top diplomat also told the summit that the United States would in future treat Hong Kong as a Chinese city rather than an autonomous one to the extent that China treats the territory as a Chinese city, Reuters reported.

Mr Pompeo said that elections due to take place in Hong Kong in September would "tell us everything that we need to know about the Chinese Communist Party's intentions with respect to freedom in Hong Kong".

He also said the US was working its way through a decision-making process over who would be held accountable over curbs to Hong Kong's freedoms, Reuters said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2020, with the headline 'Pompeo says he raised China's 'coercion' of Australia in talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe