Mike Pompeo Says Joe Biden's China Remarks Project 'American Weakness'

Mike Pompeo said Monday that Chinese leader Xi Jinping may interpret Joe Biden's posture toward Beijing as "American weakness" after the president said there was no need for "physical conflict" with China.

Former Secretary of State Pompeo told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum that the only way to avoid conflict with the Chinese Communist Party was to "demonstrate resolve and capacity" to safeguard American interests.

Pompeo was responding to comments by Biden on November 2, when he told a press conference at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, that Xi had made a "big mistake" by not attending the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference.

Asked about the potential for armed conflict between Chinese and American forces as the bilateral relationship remains at a four-decade low, Biden reiterated his administration's position that the U.S. and China are engaged in intense competition.

"This is competition; it does not have to be conflict. There is no reason there needs to be conflict," said the president. "We're not going to change our attitude toward what constitutes international airspace, international sea lanes, etc."

Biden said he didn't anticipate a need for "physical conflict." He planned to make that clear to the Chinese leader "to make sure there's no misunderstanding," he added.

"I think Xi Jinping hears that and hears American weakness, an America that talks about pacing items," Pompeo told MacCallum. "This is an adversary. Xi Jinping talks about this constantly, about the Middle Kingdom, the China Dream."

Beijing is now challenging the U.S. and Taiwan "in ways that we have not seen" in the past, Pompeo said, stressing the need for a stronger, collective deterrent.

He added: "The way you avoid the very conflict that President Biden spoke of is to demonstrate resolve and capacity. We need to do that not just ourself, but with our partners in Australia, Japan, South Korea and India, the Europeans as well.

"When we do those things well, when we establish real deterrence and they know that an administration is serious about protecting its interest, this is how you avoid conflict, not just with the Chinese Communist Party, but with the Iranians and others as well."

Target Practice

Pompeo, who lead the State Department in the last two years of President Donald Trump's tenure in the White House, described the threat posed by China as being on a different "scale, size and magnitude," after satellite images revealed the Chinese military had built life-size targets resembling American naval vessels in the desert.

The mock-ups of U.S. Navy warships— reported on Sunday by USNI News—included Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and an aircraft carrier, which were captured by Colorado-based satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies in the Taklamakan Desert in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.

One of the vessels also appeared to be mounted on 20-foot-wide rail to simulate movement, likely as a target for the People's Liberation Army's growing arsenal of ballistic missiles and hypersonic weapons. The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday denied knowledge of the facilities.

Pompeo told MacCallum that the structures—thought to be mounted with cameras and sensors—were "not terribly unusual," adding: "We've seen other nations do this before as well."

"But it is always unique when it is a real threat of the scale, size and magnitude that the Chinese Communist Party presents," he noted, suggesting that Beijing could be using the mock-ups for propaganda.

"You could shoot at a square that's roughly the same size as an American vessel, but doing it in this way is good theater," he added. "Maybe internally, but also externally, to send a message to the world that the Chinese Communist Party is serious."

Mike Pompeo Criticizes Joe Biden Remarks
President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 2, 2021. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images