Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S must end its “blind engagement” with China after decades of “naive engagement” and Beijing’s aggression has brought Taiwan and the U.S. closer together.

Pompeo made the remark at a global business forum in the southern city of Kaohsiung during his four-day visit to Taiwan. 

He said, “China’s aggressive conduct, diplomatically, militarily, economically … have changed this region. And it brought those who prefer peace and commerce even more closely together.”

He added, “If we want a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century, the century which Xi Jinping dreams of, the old paradigm of blind engagement must end.” 

This is his second visit to the island this year, after the first one in March. The visit comes ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party hosted next month, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to secure his third term.

Regarding trade with the communist regime, Pompeo said the U.S. should “pursue strategic decoupling with China”.

He added, “After decades of “naive engagement” with the mainland, Americans had recognised there was “nothing free nor fair” in doing business with Beijing.”

The former senior U.S. official noted, “Trade with China has been unlikely and will not be, in the near future, remotely free. Fair Trade for the world is impossible to achieve with countries that do not respect the rule of law, basic property rights, the capacity to enforce agreements.”

During his tenure under President Donald Trump’s administration, Pompeo played a key role in ramping up U.S. relations with Taiwan while taking a hard stance on the Chinese communist regime.

During his visit in March, he called on the United States to formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.

This time, Pompeo repeated his standpoint on Tuesday, saying that Taiwan is already an independent nation and so it “does not need to declare its independence.”

The U.S. has long maintained strategic ambiguity regarding the Taiwan issue when it comes to China’s invasion of the self-ruled island. But recently, President Joe Biden has said multiple times that the U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if such an attack occurred. 

Pompeo’s visit follows many other visits from U.S. officials initiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile trip in early August.

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