National Security

Pompeo Wants ‘Coalition’ to Counter Growing Chinese Power

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a "coalition" of like-minded countries to deter continued Chinese violations of international norms during a visit with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration, Reuters reported Tuesday.

"We hope we can build out a coalition that understands the threat and will work collectively to convince the Chinese Communist Party that it is not in their best interest to engage in this kind of behavior," Pompeo said. "We want to see every nation who understands freedom and democracy … to understand this threat that the Chinese Communist Party is posing to them."

Pompeo has increased the intensity of his rhetoric against Beijing in recent months, warning of a potential Chinese "maritime empire" in the South China Sea and calling China's imprisonment and sterilization of Muslim minorities "the stain of the century."

Currently visiting London with staffers to discuss how to strengthen the United Kingdom and America's "special relationship" in the face of pressing world issues, Pompeo is attempting to secure agreements on the issues of Hong Kong, combating Huawei, and an Anglo-American free trade agreement.

Following Washington's lead on Huawei, Britain has started to push back on the Chinese tech company's expanding influence, electing to expel all Huawei technologies from the country's 5G network by 2027. Britain's move to ban Huawei, along with similar actions by members of the Five Eyes intelligence network of English-speaking countries, signals to other European countries a changing attitude toward economic cooperation with China.

On the issue of Hong Kong, experts also see closer relations between the transatlantic allies. "Pompeo's visit will strengthen cooperation between Washington and London in confronting Chinese aggression, especially in Hong Kong," said Heritage Foundation scholar Nile Gardiner.

"There is growing synergy between the U.S. and British positions. The U.K. has significantly hardened its stance towards China in recent months, and has offered to give safe haven to up to three million Hong Kongers," Gardiner added.

As the world economy begins to recover from COVID-19, the White House and Downing Street also hope to move closer to a trade deal between the respective largest and sixth-largest economies in the world. Seen as a "holy grail" by Euroskeptics, the deal would potentially buttress Britain's growing economic separation from the European Union while also having important strategic dimensions.

"With a new strategic economic and trade orientation comes even greater defense and security cooperation as well as stronger people-to-people ties," said Center for Strategic and International Studies expert Heather Conley.