He picked up the same theme with gusto in the press conference after high level talks with Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in Washington overnight. After dispensing with opening pleasantries and praising the "unbreakable" alliance between Australia and the United States, Mr Pompeo quickly got down to business. "We started this morning by talking at length about the Chinese Communist Party's malign activity in the Indo-Pacific region and indeed all around the world," he declared.
The Secretary of State spoke for less than three minutes and mentioned the Chinese government nine times, rattling off a long list of its 'sins' both at home and abroad, while accusing Beijing of using its economic heft as a "cudgel" to beat Australia. In contrast, Marise Payne spoke for five minutes and only referred to China once, when she admonished Beijing for its crackdown on Hong Kong.