China's Communist Party has infiltrated various levels of America's infrastructure and is working to destroy the values of the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a speech Saturday, while also warning state governors to be wary of China's infiltration.
“We can’t ignore China’s actions and strategic intentions," he said while addressing the National Governors Association winter meeting. "The Chinese government has been methodical in the way it's analyzed our system... it's assessed our vulnerabilities and it's decided to exploit our freedoms, to gain an advantage over us at the federal level, the state level and the local level."
“Competition with China is happening. It’s happening in your state," Pompeo added. "In fact, I'd be surprised if most of you in the audience had not been lobbied by the Chinese Communist Party directly."
He said groups loyal to communist China are operating out in the open in Virginia, Minnesota, Florida and dozens of other states all around the country. Other Chinese groups, however, practice their nefarious actions in the shadows in an attempt to exercise influence over U.S. citizens and lawmakers.
Pompeo cited a letter from a diplomat at the Chinese Consul in New York to the speaker of an unnamed state legislature, advising that U.S. officials refrain from independent interaction with Taiwan.
“You add a diplomat from China, assigned here to the United States, a representative of the Chinese Communist Party, in New York City, sending a letter urging that an American elected official shouldn’t exercise his right to freedom of speech," he explained.
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The secretary said this isn't an uncommon event and that Chinese officials based in the U.S. are actively seeking to sow seeds of chaos at the state and local level -- specifically in the realm of education on college campuses and K-12 classrooms.
“Maybe some of you have heard about the time when the Chinese consulate paid the UC San Diego students to protest the Dalai Lama," he continued. “It shows depth. It shows systemization. It shows intent.”
He added: “Chinese Communist party officials, too, are cultivating relationships with county school boards and local politicians -- Often through what are known as 'Sister City Programs' ... This competition is well underway."
Pompeo also spoke about China's campaign to recruit U.S. scientists and academics to share vital secrets, in exchange for monetary gain through their "Thousand Talents Plan," a campaign that has already targeted scientists and professors on campuses such as Virginia Tech and Harvard and triggered investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He also explained how Beijing pressures Chinese students in the U.S. to keep an eye on their fellow countrymen and report back to the government about their activities.
"China’s propaganda starts even earlier than college. China has targeted K-12 schools around the world," he said. "Do you know that we have no ability to establish similar programs in China? We should have reciprocity in all things. Today they have free reign in our system and we're completely shut out from theirs... Beijing knows that today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders."
Pompeo then warned state governors about doing business with China and said it is common to indirectly finance communism without realizing it. He then extended the hand of the federal government and said the Trump administration is standing by, ready to help states with this growing problem.
“I want to urge vigilance on the local level too," he said. "It’s worth trusting but verifying. There are federal officials prepared to help you work your way through these challenges when they arise. Don’t make separate individual deals that undermine our national policy. I know none of you would do so intentionally. Let us help you."
“I hope you will all take on board what I've said today," Pompeo added. "Don’t lose sight of the competition from China that's already present in your state. Let's all rise to the occasion and protect our security, our economy, indeed all that we hold dear."
Nick Givas is a reporter with Fox News. You can find him on Twitter at @NGivasDC.