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Washington (AFP) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Thursday on "free nations" to triumph over the threat of what he said was a "new tyranny" from China.
"Today China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else," Pompeo said in a California speech that laid a stark view of Washington's rivalry with Beijing.
"If the free world doesn't change Communist China, Communist China will change us," he said at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.
In strident language that recalled the US Cold War with the Soviet Union, Pompeo said Beijing had taken selfish advantage of US and Western generosity as it implemented reforms and joined the global economy in the past four decades.
He strongly criticized previous US administrations for being too complacent with China and US companies for being too compliant with whatever Beijing demands of them.
And he said Beijing had broken international commitments on Hong Kong's autonomy, on the South China Sea and on stopping state-backed intellectual property threats.
"There can be no return to past practices just because they're comfortable, or convenient," he said.
"We can no longer ignore the fundamental political and ideological differences between our countries, just as the CCP has never ignored them," he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
Pompeo said that Washington had ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas this week because it had become a center for espionage and operations to illegally obtain US companies' trade secrets.
"This week we closed down China's consulate in Houston because it was a hub of spying and IP theft," he said.
"China ripped off our prized intellectual property and trade secrets costing millions of jobs across America."