Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Italy and the Vatican as part of his tour of Europe. Pompeo focused on the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the security of countries and strongly criticized the lack of religious freedom under the CCP.

After being in Greece, Pompeo arrived in Rome and met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sept. 30. The two spoke about the advance of the CCP in the Old World and, specifically, the danger behind the project for Huawei to participate in the 5G networks. 

“I discussed with the prime minister earlier, the United States also urges the Italian government to consider careful—carefully the risk to its national security and the privacy of its citizens presented by technology companies with ties to the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state,” Pompeo said during a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

“The Chinese Communist Party is trying to leverage its economic presence in Italy to serve its own strategic purposes. Rather than when American companies invest, the Chinese Communist Party is not here often to forge a sincere, mutually beneficial partnership,” Pompeo added.

The White House has sanctioned the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei for its close ties with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, saying it poses a threat to national security.

In Europe, Britain, and France have already decided to phase out the use of Huawei Technologies equipment. In addition, Germany is trying to introduce new rules to ensure the security of 5G networks that would amount to a de facto exclusion of the Chinese company, according to a report by South China Morning Post.

The Mongolian media clarifies that although Italy has not yet banned Huawei—and in fact has joined the initiative called One Band, One Route last year—its main telecommunications operator has decided not to use the Chinese company’s 5G equipment.

In early September, Telecom Italia’s CEO, Luigi Guibitosi, said there would be no problem developing 5G even if Huawei were banned, explaining that the company’s main partner is Sweden’s Ericsson.

“We have clear in mind the concerns that our U.S. allies have,” said Di Maio on the subject assuring, “Italy is fully aware of the importance of ensuring the security of 5G networks.”

“Italy is strongly anchored to the United States and the European Union, and we are bound together by common values and interests,” he added.

Criticism of the lack of religious freedom in China

On Wednesday, Pompeo spoke at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and strongly criticized the suppression of religious freedom in China. Pompeo’s remarks came amid negotiating an extension of the controversial Vatican-Beijing rapprochement agreement, which is being rejected by the Trump administration.

“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today,” Pompeo said, adding that the CCP “works day and night to snuff out the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a horrifying scale.”

“That’s because, as with all communist regimes, the Chinese Communist Party deems itself the ultimate moral authority,” he added.

Pompeo explained that in addition to Uighurs, “The Chinese Communist Party has battered every religious community in China: Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and more.”

“Of course, have Catholics been spared this wave of repression,” he asked, describing how the CCP has desecrated and destroyed Catholic churches and shrines and imprisoned Catholic bishops, priests, and lay leaders.

Pomeo, who is a Christian said, “We all know we live in a fallen world. That means that those who have responsibility for the common good must sometimes deal with wicked men and indeed with wicked regimes. But in doing so—in doing so, statesmen representing democracies must never lose sight of the moral truths and human dignity that make democracy itself possible,” he explained, adding, “so also should religious leaders.”

“Every man and woman of faith is called to exercise a moral witness against the persecution of believers,” he concluded.

On Oct. 1, Pompeo met with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and again raised with the Holy See the dangers of approaching the CCP.