U.S. and U.K. Discuss Plans for Coalition to Resist China

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo praised Britain’s tougher stance on China as the transatlantic allies signaled they are planning more coordinated action against Beijing.

Pompeo said he wants to build a “coalition” that understands the “threat” posed by China, after talks with U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London on Tuesday. At a press conference following their meeting, Raab suggested further action at Group of Seven level may follow.

U.S. and U.K. Discuss Plans for Coalition to Resist China

The discussions reflected in public what Pompeo had earlier told British lawmakers privately: that the rest of the world needs to change gear in its attitude to China and the U.S. is digging in for the long haul. Both London and Washington have stepped up their criticism of Beijing’s new security law for Hong Kong, against the backdrop of heightened tension between the U.S. and China.

Last week, the U.K. banned China’s Huawei Technologies Co from its fifth generation wireless networks, citing the impact of U.S. sanctions against the company. The Trump administration has also been vocal in its attacks on China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a theme Pompeo returned to.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the British government for its principled responses to these challenges,” Pompeo told a news conference in the ornate Green Room in Lancaster House, central London.

The top U.S. diplomat praised the U.K. for banning Huawei from 5G, for condemning “China’s broken promises” on Hong Kong and for suspending the extradition treaty with its former colony.

‘Well Done’

“We support those sovereign choices. We think, well done,” Pompeo said. Earlier in meetings with a cross-party group of British members of Parliament, Pompeo said he did not expect a win to be a couple of years away -- a much longer effort would be required, according to two people familiar with the private conversation.

In public, Pompeo said he wants “every nation who understands freedom and democracy” to recognize “this threat that the Chinese Communist Party is posing” and to work together to counter it.

“We hope we can build out a coalition that understands the threat and will work collectively to convince the Chinese Communist Party it’s not in their best interest to engage in this kind of behavior.” It is not clear what kind of coalition Pompeo imagines or what action the U.S. led group would take.

Meanwhile, Raab insisted the U.K. had not been forced into its move against Huawei by U.S pressure, despite citing American sanctions against the company as a reason for acting.

“The reality is, as a result of U.S. sanctions, we’ve of course got to look with a clear-sighted perspective about what that means, and we’ve taken a decision based on that,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s any question of strong arming.”

Both men discussed their “serious concerns” about Hong Kong, Raab said, adding that the U.K. and U.S. are discussing with allies “the next steps, including at G-7 level.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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