YORBA LINDA, Calif. (CN) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States’ diplomatic relationship with China will diminish as long as the nation threatens democracies around the world, and he called on other nations to help pressure Beijing to change its posture in the frayed geopolitical landscape.
Speaking at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Southern California, Pompeo said that while the U.S. is close to marking half a century of diplomacy with China, the relationship has soured due to China’s military aggression in its region and the negative impact it has on the U.S. economy.
The Nixon administration’s establishment of diplomatic ties between the global superpowers has been held as a major achievement, facilitated by Nixon national security adviser Henry Kissinger. But Pompeo said the promise of that hopeful mission has failed to bear fruit.
“We imagined engagement with China would produce a future with bright promise, with comity and cooperation,” Pompeo said.
Repeating comments he’s made for months, Pompeo blamed the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus on the failure of China’s communist party to curtail viral spread early on.
“Today, we’re all wearing masks and watching the pandemic’s body count rise because the CCP failed in its promises to the world,” he said.
The novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year and then spiraled into a global pandemic. The World Health Organization has said all available evidence shows the virus is zoonotic, meaning it jumped from animals to humans.
Pompeo delivered his remarks during a historic low point in the relationship between the two superpowers.
On Wednesday, the State Department ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close, saying the move was intended to “protect American intellectual property” after firefighters responded to reports a day earlier that the consulate was burning papers.
In his speech at the Nixon Presidential Library, billed as a talk on “Communist China and the future of the free world,” Pompeo called on democratic nations to appeal to China to change its behavior on the global stage.
If the ruling communist party fails to change China’s course, it will face isolation from other nations, Pompeo said.
“Free nations must set the tone, and operate on the same principles,” Pompeo said. “Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies. We have the tools. Now we need the will.”
Pompeo did not specify which nations could join any future bloc isolating China. He also said that despite current conditions, President Donald Trump will continue his ongoing diplomatic talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But the U.S. will keep watch of China’s military advance across neighboring borders and its increasing influence on the global stage, Pompeo said, adding the U.S. and its allies remain well-positioned to deter any further Chinese infringement on the world’s democracies.
The U.S. will go to great lengths to keep China in check, Pompeo said, even beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
“We’ve also created a Space Force to help deter China on that final frontier,” Pompeo said on the same day China launched a space probe to Mars — its second attempt to land on the red planet.
This week, Pompeo claimed financial contributions from China facilitated the election of the head of the World Health Organization in 2017 as a way to take control of the global health agency. On Thursday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Pompeo’s “claims untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation for that matter.”
Beijing has also continuously hit back at Pompeo’s allegations regarding the coronavirus outbreak, including claims he’s made repeatedly that the Covid-19 virus originated in a lab in Wuhan.
Pompeo has said there is “enormous evidence” to show that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab.