INTERVIEW: Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Yoshio Arima of NHK

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October 6, 2020, Chief of Mission Residence, Tokyo, Japan.

QUESTION:  All right, so thank you very much for today.  So, Secretary of State, first of all I’d like to express my sincere wish for President Trump to recover.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you very much.  Thanks for having me on the show.  I spoke to the President yesterday for about an hour and a half.  He seemed to be doing great. 

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QUESTION:  But during this very serious moment, you are visiting Japan, far away from White House.  So why is that important?  What is such important issues you have to talk with allies here in Tokyo?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So there were two reasons I needed to be here today.  The first is I wanted to extend my congratulations and greetings to Prime Minister Suga, talk to him about the important bilateral relationship between our countries.  We have a long, warm, historic relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Japan.  So I had a chance to have a good conversation with him.  I wished him well on many things, including hopefully a successful Olympics in just a few months now. 

The second reason for the visit is that we have a long-scheduled meeting with the foreign ministers from India, from Japan, from Australia, and with myself to talk about a set of important issues; making sure that this region, the Indo-Pacific, remains open and free and the rule of law, and that the threats that are posed by the Chinese Communist Party are opposed by those of us who understand that freedom and democracy are good things for all people here in the region.

QUESTION:  So is it so important on urgent issues you had to talk now, far away from White House?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ve had this scheduled for a long time.

QUESTION:  Oh, I see.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  And it was important that we all get together and it was very kind of Japan to host us.  It’s a difficult time to host foreign visitors but they were most gracious in doing so.  And I am confident that we will come out of here with important practical outcomes from this gathering of these four countries that will lead to a more prosperous world and a more prosperous region as well.  Yes, it’s urgent; time is of the essence.  The world sat on the threat from China for an awfully long time, and it is time that we get after this in a serious way. 

QUESTION:  So, Mr. Secretary, regarding Taiwan, what’s happening in Hong Kong now might happen in Taiwan next – it’s been said, that.  And the tension between U.S. and China seem to be rising over issues regarding Taiwan.  So as Secretary of State – so how do you see the current situation surrounding Taiwan? 

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, your point’s well taken about the Chinese Communist Party refusing to live up to its commitments, the basic commitment it made to the people of Hong Kong that for 50 years they would be permitted to have one country but two systems, to live with some modicum of freedom.  The Chinese Communist Party has ripped that asunder.  And so we watch what’s taking place in Taiwan.  It’s not about the United States versus China.  This is about freedom or tyranny.  This is about will the world be ruled by those who use coercive power, they use their military to bully, or will we operate in a system that is rule-based and understands that there’s room for democracies and freedom?  That’s the challenge.  This is not a rivalry between the United States and China.  This is for the soul of the world.  This is about whether this will be a world that operates in this sense that we’re – on a rules-based international order system or one that’s dominated by a coercive totalitarian regime like the one in China.

QUESTION:  So what do you expect of your allies to do so – under this situation?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  There’s so many things we can do.  The first is it’s important that we cooperate and work together, have a shared picture, if you will, of the challenge.  It’s important that we do this not only amongst the four countries, but that we share this with ASEAN countries, countries throughout the region so they too understand the challenges presented by the Chinese Communist Party.  Step one is always making sure that you know what the challenge is. 

Beyond that, there’s economic activity that we can take alongside each other.  I’m confident that these four countries will be real leaders in pushing back against the Chinese model for how to respond to this virus, that is we will develop real solutions, real health care security solutions to combat COVID-19 that the Chinese Communist Party foisted upon the world by covering up this virus.  When they knew they had a problem, instead of being forthright and candid in the way democracies and rules-loving people are, they chose to disappear journalists and hide doctors and deceive the world from what they knew was an enormous threat.  And we can see the impact of that, certainly in the lost lives – now a million across the world – and the huge psychological and economic damage that has been inflicted as well. 

No, the people of Japan and the people of America have been good friends for a long time, and for good reasons.  It’s because we have this set of shared understandings about human dignity and freedom and a set of shared values.  These are the things that will ultimately deliver really good outcomes for our two countries, for the region, and for the world. 

QUESTION:  So how do you see the latest military operation conducted by China, (inaudible) sea?  And China is repeating kind of – promoting activities there.  So how do you see and how do you react to them?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, we know this:  Weakness provokes bullies, that is appeasement rewards those who act in ways that are coercive and use military might as opposed to diplomatic tools to resolve conflict.  I could give you so many, like what’s taking place today in the Himalayas, what has happened in Hong Kong, the east China sea issue – issues in the South China Sea, what’s – the coercion that’s been foisted upon the people of Cambodia in result of Chinese activity.  You mentioned Taiwan earlier.  The people inside China, too, are being treated very badly for the vast – the forced sterilization of women in Xinjiang or the inability of Mongolians inside of China to simply be who they want to be. 

The answer to that is to be forceful in our response, to be direct about our expectations, and to work with like-minded nations all across the world to oppose those who want to use military power or coercion (inaudible) in ways that are inconsistent with the values that the people of the United States and the people of Japan hold dear.

QUESTION:  So given the situation, what do you expect Japan to do as an ally?  And tell me, President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan has been postponed, but is not (inaudible), so how do you think?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, I’ll leave some of that – those are decisions for sovereign leaders of Japan to make.  But look at what we’re working on together.  There’s so many places that we’re cooperating.  I also see that the activity the Chinese Communist Party’s engaged in is causing other partnerships to be stronger, too.  Today I’m here, for example, with these four countries.  It’s not just that multilateral institution, right.  We’ve been accused – America’s been accused of not liking multilateral institutions.  We like things that work, just like the people of Japan do.  We want functional, good outcomes.  But you see – improved relationship between Japan and India, improved relationships between Japan and Australia.  All of these things – the economic relationships, the diplomatic relationships, the security relationships – those build out networks that can keep these nations free and secure. 

QUESTION:  Last question about Japan’s financial support for American troops in Japan.  So how much do you think U.S. will ask Japan to pay more as host nations?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We will sit down and have serious conversations with the Japanese Government about this over the coming weeks and months and begin to prepare for these discussions.  There’s no number that I’m prepared to talk about or share today.  We will come to an arrangement where each of our two countries exhibits the – its goodwill, and I am confident that to be good partners and work alongside each other, to get the outcomes that our two countries need – we will share this tax.  We will share this burden in a way that I think each country will find fair and equitable.  I’m highly confident that we’ll resolve this. 

QUESTION:  You mean you will discuss the topic?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yes.  Look, it will be in this conversation that is held over the next period of time.  It won’t be resolved today. 

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thank you so much for (inaudible).

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you very much, sir.

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