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Pompeo Blasts China In Foreign Policy Speech During 'Unprecedented' Wisconsin Visit

Thomas Kronsteiner
Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial at Judenplatz on Aug. 14 in Vienna, Austria.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped in Madison on Wednesday to address foreign policy, with an emphasis on China, in the state Capitol.

Pompeo’s visit to Wisconsin was one of three from members of President Trump’s administration this week. Trump was just campaigning in Mosinee a week ago.

State Senate President Roger Roth invited Pompeo to speak.

Republican legislators welcomed Pompeo with applause as he stood before them at the Capitol. Republicans who attended included Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dan Feyen. 

His speech focused on foreign policy, with the majority centered on the Chinese Communist Party’s influence in governments around the world. For example, Pompeo discussed an email that the Chinese Consulate in Chicago sent to Roth earlier this year. It detailed China’s response to the coronavirus and asked Roth to push for a resolution praising the country for it. Roth declined to do so.

“The Chinese Communist Party knew early on how virulent the coronavirus was that originated in Wuhan. They did what authoritarian regimes do: they suppressed information, they censored, they disappeared courageous whistleblowers and journalists who try to sound the alarm all around the world,” Pompeo says.

Pompeo says the consulate’s request essentially asked for help in whitewashing “the culpability for a global pandemic.”

Pompeo says the action was not unique to Wisconsin. He says it’s part of a coordinated propaganda campaign happening all around the world.

“Look, plenty of countries try to influence our politics and our culture, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not worried about the Alliance Francaise, or the National Italian American Organization, or an Irish group. Fundamentally different than what the Chinese Communist Party is doing. It has a much more sinister view of this engagement. The party and its proxies aim to make American receptive to Beijing’s form authoritarianism," Pompeo says.

Pompeo did say he wanted to distinguish the actions of the Chinese Communist Party from the people and leaders of China who want to live there as free peoples, at peace and in prosperity in the same way folks do in the U.S.

A couple of Wisconsin Democrats did not welcome Pompeo’s visit to the state Capitol.

State Sen. Mark Miller says it is obviously part of the Trump campaign push. Miller believes more officials from Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign will continue to visit Wisconsin since it’s so important to the November election.

But he still called Pompeo’s appearance unprecedented.

“But there’s been a lot in the Trump administration that’s been unprecedented in terms of what’s allowable and one of those ones is using public venues for political purposes,” Miller says.

State Sen. Chris Larson also weighed in. He said in a statement that Pompeo “delivered a campaign speech disguised as foreign policy” and “used the Senate chambers as a prop to attack the Chinese government, blaming them for America’s failure to contain COVID-19.”

Larson also criticized the inaction of Wisconsin GOP lawmakers. He says it’s ironic that the largest gathering of lawmakers in more than five months “was not for a legislative session to do the people’s business, but for a foreign policy speech in a swing state while voting is underway.”

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