Pompeo says U.S. trying to convince China 'to behave like a normal nation'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States was engaged in a “multi-pronged effort ... to convince China to behave like a normal nation on commerce” and respect international law after Washington indicted 10 Chinese nationals for stealing aviation secrets.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/File Photo

Speaking in a radio interview, Pompeo called China’s behavior in stealing intellectual property “inappropriate” and “not consistent with being a superpower or a leader in the world.”

“Stealing another country’s intellectual property, something China’s been engaged in to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, is just something China has to figure out a way to stop,” he told the Brian Kilmeade Show.

Pompeo also told the Laura Ingraham radio show that over the long term, China was probably the biggest national security challenge facing the United States and the Trump administration was pushing back “on all fronts.”

“Where the semiconductor piece fits in is it’s part of a mosaic of our strategic effort to push back against this continued Chinese effort,” he said.

“It is a multipronged effort on behalf of all of the United States Government, at the President’s direction, to convince China to behave like a normal nation on commerce and with respect to the rules of international law,” he said.

A U.S. indictment unsealed on Tuesday said Chinese intelligence officers conspired with hackers and company insiders to break into computer systems of private firms to steal information on a turbo fan engine used in commercial jetliners.

It was the third major corporate espionage-related case involving Chinese intelligence officers brought by the Justice Department since last month and comes at a time when Washington is embroiled in a major trade war with Beijing.

The United States and China have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods over the past few months, sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands for an end to alleged Chinese intellectual property theft, deep cuts to industrial subsidies, and action to correct a major U.S. trade deficit with China.

Early this month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence intensified Washington’s pressure campaign against Beijing by accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine Trump ahead of next Tuesday’s congressional elections and reckless military actions in the disputed South China Sea, a major Asian trade route.

China has rejected the charges.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish