Pompeo says the United States is ready to join China, but the EU looks at a post-Trump world

He accused China of “provocative military actions” including “continued aggression in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontations in India, an opaque nuclear program and threats against peaceful neighbors.”

He charged that China “has broken multiple international commitments, including those of the WHO, the WTO, the United Nations and the people of Hong Kong” and criticized “China’s predatory economic practices, such as trying to compel nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party surveillance state “and its” legion of human rights abuses. ” (Huawei has repeatedly denied having close ties to the Chinese government.)

“I am beginning to see even more realism on the continent when it comes to the Communist Party threat in China,” Pompeo said at the beginning of his remarks. “We should address that challenge together, as the transatlantic partners have faced many challenges.”

But European allies have detected little will of Trump to act as a transatlantic partner in recent years, as he has consistently abandoned a series of international agreements backed by EU and NATO allies. And indeed, other parts of Pompeo’s speech, including Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw thousands of US troops from Germany, highlighted those differences.

Pompeo’s acceptance of Borrell’s proposal was all the more remarkable because the U.S. diplomat practically ignored it during the video conference call last week with EU foreign ministers, without offering immediate response and little encouragement. Since then, Borrell himself has downplayed the importance of his own initiative, saying it was just an idea he came up with.

But in the last 10 days, the political landscape has changed. EU leaders held a high-level virtual “summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, highlighting a strong willingness to work with Beijing, but also voicing their concerns about disinformation, human rights and Hong Kong’s tough approach Meanwhile, Trump held a disastrous low-attendance rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma; a book by his former national security adviser, John Bolton, described the president as incompetent and ignorant of the basic facts; And Trump has fallen in the polls against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Even before Bolton’s book was published, PDF copies were circulating among well-connected European politicians, who thought there was little left about Trump that could surprise them, only to discover that he once asked if Finland was part of Russia.

During Thursday’s speech and question-and-answer session, in which Pompeo appeared via video conference, the secretary of state professed to have enormous enthusiasm for Borrell’s proposal and said he hoped to travel to Europe “in just a few weeks. Off . “

“I am pleased to announce that the United States has accepted High Representative Borrell’s proposal to create a dialogue between the United States and the EU on China,” said Borrell. “I am excited about a new mechanism to discuss the concerns we have about the threat China poses to the West and our shared democratic ideals.”

When the moderator of the event, Bojan Pancevski of the Wall Street Journal, pressured Pompeo for more details, he insisted that the United States was already moving forward.

“You are right. This is new, the proposal came from High Representative Borrell in recent days,” said Pompeo. “But you should know that we were very interested in that. We put a great team working together to start outlining how this would look.” He added: “I don’t know exactly what form it will take. I am sure we will establish a structure that will enhance our shared collective knowledge.”

At the start of Trump’s presidency, EU leaders hoped that the combative president would join them in addressing a number of problems with China, particularly related to trade disputes, which Beijing had long denied. to give ground. Instead, Trump grouped the EU, and especially Germany, alongside China as trade rivals who had taken advantage of the US, and even imposed punitive tariffs on EU steel and aluminum products that led to rapid retaliation. from Brussels.

And even when Pompeo said he was excited about the new dialogue on China, he reiterated some areas of strong disagreement between Washington and European allies, including Trump’s surprise decision to reduce the U.S. military presence in Germany, which Trump has linked to their political disagreements. with Berlin, including Germany’s slow increase in military spending and its continued support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Pompeo, in his speech, tried to insist that Trump’s decision was based on a careful “strategic review” of the levels and needs of military deployment, a point that has been flatly contested by current and former US military officers.

Given the deep lack of confidence, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made in the discussion about China or anything else between now and the November elections in the US EU leaders at the moment are intensely focused on debating their new long-term budget and a European Commission Proposal for an ambitious economic recovery fund.

The Brussels Forum is often a showcase for the exchange of ideas between transatlantic allies, but that has not been the case during Trump’s years in office. In another speech to the German Marshall Fund in December 2018 in Brussels, Pompeo stunned his audience of high-powered officials in silence as he unleashed an attack on multilateral institutions and “bureaucrats.”

Pompeo opened Thursday’s speech by insisting that he was right the first time. “I don’t think it was a favorite among the European press,” he said of his 2018 speech. “But you should know that many of my counterparts privately told me they agreed with me.”

In China, Pompeo said he believed the devastating COVID-19 pandemic had created a greater willingness in the United States and Europe to confront the Asian giant, choosing a favorite topic by Trump who called the virus “Kung flu” at his rally in Oklahoma.

“The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision, China is making that choice,” Pompeo said in his speech, adding: “The CCP’s cover-up of the coronavirus, an outbreak that It started in Wuhan China, which has now killed tens of thousands of our people and hundreds of thousands of people around the world. I think it has accelerated the awakening of everyone. Europeans, like Americans, are beginning to find their voice. ” .