China faces choice to avoid Cold War — Pompeo

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
China faces choice to avoid Cold War â Pompeo
Pompeo said the US has to make some adjustments in its policy in response to changes that have taken place, especially China’s greater engagement with other countries.

MANILA, Philippines — The risk of another Cold War erupting will depend on China’s choosing between sticking to rules-based order or engaging in imperialistic expansion, according to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

In a recent interview with One America News Network, Pompeo said China should stop its South China Sea militarization, apparently aimed at expanding its territory, if it wants to avoid another Cold War.

Pompeo said the US has to make some adjustments in its policy in response to changes that have taken place, especially China’s greater engagement with other countries.

As its economy expands, he said China has become more sophisticated militarily, with advanced weapons systems and greater technological capabilities. “They’ve begun to use them in ways that present real risk to the United States,” he said.

Asked if the world is witnessing the beginning of another Cold War, Pompeo said “the choice will be made in the years ahead.”

China, he said, “will have to decide if it wants to participate in a rules-based order where transparency, respect for intellectual property rights, the absence of continuing to expand their weapons systems into the South China Sea – if they make those set of decisions and behave in a way that is consistent with taking care of their people, providing for their own security, not acting with the goals of imperialism – if they do that, then we won’t be in that place.

“But if they choose a different path, an expansionist path or a path that behaves in the world where you show up and offer deals that aren’t truly economic deals, right, with their Belt and Road,” he added.

China’s Belt and Road program as well as its other overseas activities, he said, are all about projecting political influence. 

“We never compete in some of the ways that they have chosen to intervene in some of these countries. We would never lend money to a country with the objective of foreclosing on that loan and gaining political power,” he said.

Critics see China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as part of Beijing’s “debt-trap diplomacy.”

The Philippines has been repeatedly warned about falling into a Chinese debt trap involving the injudicious use of loans from China.

The Chinese embassy in Manila had earlier dismissed such claims as “meaningless” and “nonsense.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines’ Chinese debt was too small to end up in default.

“Keep it small. We already got burned in WB/IMF/New York banks’ debt to ‘corruptly governed countries’ debt trap,” Locsin tweeted yesterday.

Pompeo noted that the US makes sure other countries know the risks connected to taking Chinese deals. 

“Make no mistake about it, some of the Chinese transactions, straight-up business deals, competing against the United States, and when that’s the case we welcome that competition,” Pompeo said.

“But where it’s not, we’ve got an obligation to tell those countries about the risks connected to what it is that those Chinese businesses are doing, their connections to the Chinese government,” he said. 

He pointed out that the US is not looking to hold China back but that Washington simply wants to make sure that there is freedom of navigation, fair, reciprocal trading regimes and rule of law throughout the globe. 

“We’re confident if we do that, America can be successful. And we believe that if China would do that, it can be successful as well,” he said.




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