Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: Joining me out of the gate this morning, got a very special guest. You know him as the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. How are you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, Erick. How are you today?
QUESTION: I’m great. I’m glad you could stop by this morning, because I was thinking every conversation I’ve had with the President or Vice President the last couple of months has involved conversations on China. And now with Apple rolling out its new iPhone next week in 5G, it just seems like we’re seeing American tech companies and even institutions in this country, like through Confucius Institutes, more and more entangled with China, and would love to pick your brain on that topic.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir. Look, this risk from the Chinese Communist Party, Erick, is real. For 40 years – and this isn’t political, remotely – Republican presidents, Republican congresses, Democrat, it didn’t make a difference – we went on bended knee. We allowed the Chinese Communist Party to walk all over us. And President Trump is working to right that ship. It’ll be good for American jobs, it’ll be good for American security.
You talk about the context of technology. We have inside our own classrooms, in K-12 institutions in Georgia and my home state of Kansas, all across America, we have the Chinese Communist Party under the veil of these things called Confucius Institutes impacting our kids, putting their propaganda on top of our children. It’s unacceptable, and we are working to, by the end of the year, have them out of every school all across America.
QUESTION: I’m glad to hear that. I know we’ve had several here in Georgia, and academic institutions defending them and their funding. But that U.S. Senate investigation, bipartisan in nature, I guess a couple of years ago, really did show how they just are pushing a communist party line as opposed to anything objective about China.
SECRETARY POMPEO: You raised it, Erick, and we shouldn’t shy away from talking about it. It’s often about money, whether it was the desire of our companies to sell products in China, or in this case for universities to take grant money from the Chinese Communist Party. It’s often about economics. We need to just face up to the fact that this money is being used to subvert our democracy, to undermine our way of life, and we should simply say it’s unacceptable, we’ll find another way to underwrite our schools, to pay for our kids to go where they need to go. To take money from the Chinese Communist Party to keep our schools afloat is just an unacceptable tradeoff.
QUESTION: Let me mention economics. One of the issues I hear repeatedly and the President has raised is that China is not considered a developed nation in the World Trade Organization, so it gets all sorts of benefits. Is there any sort of global move to try to rectify the situation now that China really is a dominant economy in the world?
SECRETARY POMPEO: President Trump and our team have built out a real coalition on this issue, Erick. It was the President who flagged this first, but now we can see that the world has come to understand China the same way that the United States does. So whether it’s European countries, other countries in Southeast Asia, they all understand that this deal that was struck two decades ago that said China can get a set of rules that applied essentially only to it, a country of 1.4 billion people and a whole lot of wealth, would still get these things. And only the poorest countries in the world are supposed to get trade deals, and the whole world I think is united.
It will take some real work to fix what happens at the World Trade Organization on this. But I don’t think there are many defenders left that think it’s plausible for China to claim that it’s a developing country when it has one of the most advanced militaries, an advanced space program, a missile program – the list is very long, Erick.
QUESTION: Well, I know you’re pressed for time, but before you get off here, I want to ask you – I grew up in the Middle East, in Dubai. I have a lot of friends from the Middle East and that region of the world, have numerous friends I would – from Armenia, and I’m a little bit disturbed reading the press reports on the Armenian-Azerbaijan situation. I know it’s having spillover effects into Russia, Iran, and elsewhere, and would love to get your thoughts on that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I didn’t know your history there in Dubai. Let me – two things, and then I’ll turn to Armenia. What the Emirati leadership did in making the decision not to make hate for Israel the core piece of their foreign policy was bold and will benefit the people of every one of the Emirates, whether it’s in Abu Dhabi, or Dubai, or elsewhere. It’s a good thing for the region. It’s a great thing for the American people, who will have to send fewer there – fewer of their kids to go fight in faraway places in the Middle East. The risk of terror in the area is reduced too, as we all focus on the real threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
When you say that, you now turn to the conflicts that are there, and you watch what’s taking place in Azerbaijan and Armenia today. It is dangerous. We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight over this place called Nagorno-Karabakh, a small territory with about 150,000 people, but —
QUESTION: Right, for the —
SECRETARY POMPEO: — highly contentious.
QUESTION: — last thousand years?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s a longstanding conflict. The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation. We – we’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the Azerbaijanis are doing, and that they will all, before that takes place, get the ceasefire right, and then sit down at the table and try and sort through this – that is – what is a truly historic and complicated problem set.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) Very much so, it is. Listen, I know you’re pressed on time, but thank you very much for stopping by this morning. Best of luck to you and your leadership there with the Secretary of State’s office. I truly have been impressed with your leadership —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Erick.
QUESTION: — in these Middle East peace deals. If we weren’t pressed on time, I would have talked more about them, having grown up over there in an area where my textbooks in the Middle East were redacted and – from all references of Israel. I never even – I’ve never even been to Israel. I couldn’t when I lived over there.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I know. It’s a remarkable place.
QUESTION: So I’m excited about what you guys have done.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I would love to have more time with you. Thanks for having me on today. Bless you. Have a great day, Erick.
QUESTION: You too.