LONDON — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab struck different tones on China — even if their objectives appear broadly aligned.
At a press conference following talks in London, Raab used standard diplomatic language when addressing Britain’s “serious concerns” about new security laws in Hong Kong, and plans to coordinate with allies to counter Beijing.
But Pompeo lashed China — repeatedly referring directly to the Chinese Communist Party. “We of course began with the challenge presented by the Chinese Communist Party and the COVID-19 virus that originated in Wuhan, China,” he said. “The CCP’s exploitation of this disaster to further its own interests has been disgraceful. Rather than helping the world, General Secretary Xi has shown the world the party’s true face.”
Pompeo said China had “crushed freedoms” in Hong Kong and was seeking to “bully its neighbors” in Asia.
The U.K. has followed Washington’s lead in recent weeks and has taken a harder line against Beijing, u-turning on its decision to allow Chinese tech firm Huawei involvement in the British 5G network and suspending its extradition agreement and arms exports to Hong Kong.
But Raab insisted the U.K. was not being forced into aping the U.S. on China. “I don’t think there’s any question of strong-arming,” he said.
Pompeo also met Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday and a cross-party group of backbench MPs, many of whom are China hawks.