Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press (Hong Kong Excerpts)

U.S. Department of State

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press


NOVEMBER 26, 2019



Turning to the Chinese Communist Party. We’ve all seen the “Xinjiang Papers” released in recent days. They detail the Chinese party’s brutal detention and systematic repression of Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

These reports are consistent with an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is committing human rights violations and abuses against individuals in mass detention.

We call on the Chinese Government to immediately release all those who are arbitrarily detained and to end its draconian policies that have terrorized its own citizens in Xinjiang.

It’s not just Muslims that are the largest – that are the target of the CCP’s hostility. Christians, Tibetans, and other minority groups have also felt the CCP’s heavy hand of repression.

On a different note regarding China, we congratulate the people of Hong Kong on free, fair, and peaceful district council elections on the 24th of November.

The United State continues to support democratic values, fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong as guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” framework, and aspirations of the Hong Kong people.

QUESTION: And thank you for coming down. This is twice in two weeks. It’s a good tradition to get into.

I just want to ask you very briefly about the – Hong Kong and the Xinjiang papers. The President is kind of – I don’t want to say waffling, but he hasn’t made up his mind about this legislation that came out of Congress on this. Is this – it would involve sanctions. And I’m just wondering, is this something that you are personally supportive of, those sanctions? And are you willing to take action, sanctions or otherwise, in relation to the Uighurs?

And then if I could – and I’ll accept that you will not like this question or think that it’s irrelevant or unimportant, sort of stipulate your annoyance, I expect – last Friday, this department released call – telephone call logs and some correspondence that show that you had two brief conversations with Rudy Giuliani in late March. This has led to speculation in reports that you were actually involved in the campaign to get – to recall Ambassador Yovanovitch from Ukraine. Wondering, did you discuss Ambassador Yovanovitch in those calls with Mayor Giuliani? And did the State Department then mislead or misinform Congress as to the circumstances of her departure in the two letters that were sent to Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engel? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: As for Hong Kong, I think the administration has been pretty clear about our expectations about how Beijing will treat people throughout their country. We have human rights standards that we apply all across the world, and Hong Kong is no different. In addition, in Hong Kong we have the commitments that the Chinese Government made as part of their obligations to maintain one country and two systems. That’s what we’re continuing to work towards.

Congress has now taken action. Since it’s before the President, I won’t get out in front of what he will do before too long. But suffice to say, I think the administration’s policies have been pretty unambiguous, and our support for the Chinese Communist Party’s continued commitment to the promises that they made remains unwavering. And I think you saw that from the people of Hong Kong this past week. That’s what they’re asking for, too, the continued maintenance of the understandings that were committed to under international law.

QUESTION: On Hong Kong, a quick follow-up. Would you recommend President Trump to endorse the bipartisan legislation on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act? The reason I ask is because if it’s enacted, it will require secretary of state to certify if Hong Kong retains enough autonomy for favorable trading terms.

And separately, if I may, on Xinjiang, as you just mentioned, the new leak of documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – ICIJ – revealed the strategy behind a campaign of re-education of Muslim minority groups. Would you say the U.S. pressures have had any effect on China’s actions in Xinjiang, and does the new document allow more concrete actions to take against China? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So your first question is – I can’t really answer it because you point out quite correctly in the second part of that question that that issue will come to me if this were to become law, if the President signs it or it becomes law. That will come to me; I’ll have to make this determination. I don’t want to prejudge that. I want to make sure that the process here can be run in a fair, neutral way and no one thinks that the secretary of state got out in front of the analysis that will be tasked annually to do under that statute to evaluate whether the requirements there can be certified too.

So we’re aware of it. Our teams already have a lot of the foundational activity in place that we can perform, I think, a pretty thorough analysis pretty quickly to see if that certification could be made if, in fact, this becomes law. And when we do, we’ll make that – that will be a published certification. We’ll send it to Capitol Hill as required by statute.

Your second question is about – really about what’s the effects of these – this newly released information. I think there are really a couple. First, I think it confirms what we’ve been saying here at the State Department and the United States Government for some time now about what’s taking place there – the very significant human rights abuses. I think it confirms it, shows that it’s not random and it is intentional and that it is ongoing. And so I think those papers simply confirm that. I think the world can see that, which leads me to the second point.

I think it’s the case now that you’ll see many more countries around the world acknowledging what’s taking place there and working alongside of the United States to create space and improve human rights conditions for the people of Xinjiang. I’m hopeful that those papers – the release of those papers will encourage others to join in what we view as a very important outcome that we’re trying to achieve.