The Secretary of State warns state officials that China “is working you.”
“Today they have free reign in our system and we’re completely shut out from theirs,” he said.
Pompeo said the Trump administration is working to address the dynamic with actions like seeking international affirmation that Taiwan is a key business partner, and strengthening the review process for Chinese companies in the U.S. He advised states to consult with the federal government when approached with new propositions linked to China.
“You get curveballs every day from all across the place,” Pompeo said. “But don’t lose sight of the competition with China that’s already present in your state. Let’s all rise to the occasion and protect our security, our continent, and all that we hold dear, all of our freedoms.”
The address took some in the audience by surprise. (‘This is quite a speech,” one Maryland-based lobbyist whispered to no one in particular in the crowded ballroom.)
Governors seemed supportive.
“His word was simply to be cautious,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said following the speech. “And obviously when you’re dealing with a communist nation that doesn’t have the same regard for freedom that we do, caution is a good word.”
In the spirit of the NGA event’s supposed bipartisan nature, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the warning seemed at least an easy one to rally around.
“You’re talking to Democratic governors; you’re talking to Republican governors and it’s a politicized time,” he said. “I thought the topic was appropriate because it was not political. ‘Let me talk to you about China; you have to worry about China.’ It was a safe topic, it was not a political topic.”