HUGH HEWITT, HOST: Now Mr. Secretary, you also noted in your speech about the INF that there is no advantage, no reason the United State should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to the revisionist powers like China, talking about China’s new missile capability. In the ’60 campaign, John F. Kennedy scored Richard Nixon for a missile gap. Do we presently have a “hypersonics gap” with China?
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I don’t want to say much about gaps, because they have a long history of being misunderstood. Here’s what we can say with absolute certainty. The Chinese continue to build up their capabilities – their satellite capabilities, their hypersonic capabilities, their artificial intelligence capabilities, the capacity of the PLA to conduct operations not only in their territory but in a more expeditionary fashion. The United States has a duty to defend itself, and we need to make sure that we have the resources and the right set of leaders and capabilities so that we don’t find ourselves in a place two, five or fifteen years from now where we no longer maintain the capacity to keep America safe and secure against all threats, especially including the one that the Chinese are building.
HEWITT: Now how is, in fact, the Chinese action different in kind from that of Imperial Japan in their greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere? Are they acting as aggressively in these years as Japan did in the early 30s?
POMPEO: So they have taken actions that are very aggressive. And indeed, in some cases, they have misled us. You’ll recall that in the Rose Garden, President Xi confirmed that he would not militarize these, I’ll call them islands, but these outposts in the South China Sea, and then in fact did. And so we now know that the intention of China is to continue to build out, to continue to expand their capability. And President Trump and President Xi talked about this some when they were together in Buenos Aires, and we are determined to make sure that America is prepared across every battlefront. I didn’t mention cyber previously. Each of these battlefronts is a place the United States must be sure we maintain our capacity to be the premiere capability in the world.
HEWITT: And let me conclude, Mr. Secretary, and thank you for your time, is the People’s Republic of China the greatest threat to the West now, greater than Russia, greater than Iran? Is it our hundred year or two hundred year threat? And do we have to think about it in those terms?
POMPEO: I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Over the five, ten, twenty-five year time horizon, just by simple demographics and wealth, as well as by the internal system in that country, China presents the greatest challenge that the United States will face in the medium to long term.