Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Friday before the American Association of Christian Counselors, where he called out China for human rights abuses and defended religious liberty around the world.
Speaking in Nashville, Pompeo said the Trump administration “has spoken to the truth in many ways that previous administrations haven’t done,” such as calling out “China’s rule-breaking and authoritarianism” and Iran’s bogus victimhood claims. It was his remarks about China that have received the most attention, given the controversy surrounding the partially communist country and the NBA.
“The Chinese Communist Party is detaining and abusing more than one million Uighur Muslims in internment camps in the Xinjiang. It’s the western region of China,” Pompeo said. “The pages of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ are coming to life there. I wish the NBA would acknowledge that.”
Pompeo went on to explain that Christians are also being persecuted in the Middle East:
So Christian pastors today are being unlawfully arrested, beaten, detained inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. We need to speak about this.
Christian areas in northern Iraq that I’ve had the privilege to visit have been ravaged by ISIS, part of a greater trend of Christian persecution all across the Middle East.
Pompeo emphasized the Trump administration’s position that nations should give individuals “their basic human dignity to practice their conscience, their faith, or to choose no faith if they so choose all around the world.”
The secretary then explained what the Trump administration has done to punish China so far:
Just this week, the United States made a decision. We put visa restrictions on those responsible for the some of the human rights violations that took place in China and that continue to take place today.
And we’ve stopped American companies from exporting certain products to Chinese tech companies that are enabling these very human rights abuses. We did these things under President Trump’s direction for the simple reason that we know Americans do not want their companies building the machinery of a totalitarian surveillance state.
Critics have suggested the move to restrict visas may hurt the U.S. more than China. The nation responded to the Trump administration’s restrictions by placing similar restrictions on U.S. visitors with “anti-China” links.
You can watch Pompeo’s full speech below:
Pompeo’s remarks come as the NBA struggles to rebound after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters. The league quickly stated that Morey’s views don’t represent the Rockets or the NBA. Morey apologized and deleted his tweet. The NBA is now canceling media access to players while teams are in China to avoid questions relating to Chinese censorship.
The league continues to dig itself a hole when attempting to respond to the controversy. On Thursday, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr equated China’s human rights abuses to criminals in America shooting people. Kerr completely missed the point that Americans have a right to own firearms (but not to kill people) and that if he made similar remarks as a Chinese citizen he would likely be sent to a “re-education” camp, since China lacks freedom of speech protections.