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Washington warns Danandrewstan: Mike Pompeo on China, coronavirus and the Belt and Road

24 May 2020

4:37 PM

24 May 2020

4:37 PM

Spectator Australia editor and Sky News Australia host Rowan Dean spoke exclusively with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sky News Australia’s Outsiders program today.

America’s most senior diplomat warned western nations — and members of the Five Eyes security agreement — to think carefully about doing business with China and consider Beijing’s reflex to “cover up and hide” when faced with a crisis as Victoria continues to push ahead with its plan to sign up to China’s US$1.4 trillion Belt and Road Initiative global infrastructure project.

Pompeo said China’s tendency to blame everyone else for the pandemic, including Australia, has made it even more necessary for there to be a full and rigorous investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are some key grabs from the interview:

Every citizen of Australia that should know that every one of those Belt and Road projects needs to be looked at incredibly closely.

It is the case, some of them may just be straight-up commercial transactions, if so, fine, but nearly each one of them has some cost to it. There is often money loaned at concessional rates, or conditions placed on the debt documents, or concessions that have to be made to the Chinese communist party in order to get those Belt and Road Initiatives projects built.

Those present real risk, real risk to the people in that region, real risk to country and frankly they build up the capacity of the Chinese communist party to do harm elsewhere.

We will not take any risks to our telecommunications infrastructure, any risk to the national security elements of what we need to do with our Five Eyes partners.

I don’t know the nature of those projects precisely. To the extent they have an adverse impact on our ability to protect telecommunications from our private citizens, or security networks for our defence and intelligence communities – we simply disconnect, we will simply separate.

We are going to preserve trust in networks … We hope our friends and allies, especially our Five Eyes partners like Australia, do the same.

This virus originated in Wuhan China and the Chinese Communist Party has rigorously prevented the entire world of the precise origins.

How did this begin? How did this have the first human-to-human transmission? All of these things the world deserves to know.

Illustration: Sky News Australia.

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