U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in Madison on Wednesday that the Chinese Communist Party is aggressively attempting to influence state and local governments.
“We see it all over in America’s Sister Cities programs, like the ones on Door County, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Richland Center,” Pompeo told Republican lawmakers gathered in the state Senate chambers. “They fall under the authority of something called the Chinese Peoples Association of Friendship with Foreign Countries. Sounds benign. But that group is part of China’s United Front Work Department, the CCP’s official overseas propaganda tool.”
Pompeo said those efforts by the Chinese government include through their investments.
“As of its last report, the Wisconsin Retirement System is invested in China Mobile and China Telecom. Both are state owned giants, and they’re an integral part of Chinese Orwellian surveillance system. Do you want your teachers, your firefighters and your policemen invested in those kinds of activities.”
Pompeo delivered the warning to Republican lawmakers during a speech in the Wisconsin Senate chamber at the Capitol in Madison.
He said states can work more closely with the federal government to oppose those Chinese efforts.
“You can also work to ensure your state colleges aren’t improperly influenced by CCP linked organizations like the Confucius Institutes. And that pro-democracy students from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan studying in Wisconsin are not harassed. We want them here. Make sure they are not being threatened by pro-Beijing elements on your campuses.”
Pompeo’s Madison speech comes as his boss, President Donald Trump, hopes to win the state over Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.