Trump's national security adviser takes aim at China

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Robert O'Brien, assistant to the president for national security affairs, removes a face covering prior to speaking during a news conference regarding China Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – President Donald Trump's national security adviser warned China on Wednesday that the United States is waking up to the threat that it believes the Chinese Communist Party poses “to our great way of life” and will act to check the spread of Beijing's ideology.

Robert O’Brien said his speech challenging China was the first of many in the coming weeks by senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“The days of American passivity and naivety regarding the People’s Republic of China are over,” O’Brien told a group business leaders in Phoenix.

“America, under President Trump’s leadership, has finally awoken to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s actions and the threat they pose to our great way of life.”

This latest verbal offensive is an extension of Trump's harsh words for Beijing's handling of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 120,000 Americans. It follows on the heels of former national security John Bolton's book that alleges Trump was soft on Chinese President Xi Jinping and other authoritarian leaders to advance his own political agenda.

According to Bolton, Trump asked Xi for China to buy more agricultural products to help the president win farm states and told the Chinese leader that he was right to build detention camps to house thousands of Chinese ethnic minorities.

That statement could make the president’s tough-on-China mantra a hard sell. The Trump campaign released an online video last month that included clips of former Vice President Joe Biden previously describing the Chinese as “not bad folks” and saying economic growth in China was in the U.S. interest.

O'Brien harsh words come as China has rebuffed U.S. efforts to negotiate a three-way nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and as the administration seeks Beijing's help in getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. The White House also is trying negotiate a new U.S.-China trade agreement.