Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk: Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday accused China of military aggression, commercial theft and rising human rights violations as he cast the Asian power as a villain bent on interfering in upcoming US elections.
In a blistering speech that expands on complaints aired by President Donald Trump at the United Nations last week, Pence accused China of waging an “unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion” ahead of critical congressional elections on November 6.
“To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; China wants a different American president,” Pence said at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
“There can be no doubt — China is meddling in America’s democracy.”
China hit back furiously yesterday, branding Pence’s accusation as “ridiculous,” groundless and slanderous.
The administration’s offensive on China comes as a cloud hangs over Trump with an investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to swing the 2016 presidential election in the Republican real estate tycoon’s favor.
Pence said: “As a senior career member of our intelligence community told me just this week, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country.”
Pence’s sharply worded address comes days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit China on a trip focused on nuclear diplomacy with North Korea — an area in which the United States still seeks Beijing’s cooperation.
China has maintained a calm tone as US language escalates. China’s ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, in an interview with National Public Radio aired shortly before Pence’s address, said there was a “much larger need for cooperation” than competition with Washington.
Relations between the world’s two largest economies have plummeted in recent weeks with Trump placing $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, in part over charges that Beijing forces US companies to hand over technological know-how.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, separately said that the United States was speaking to the European Union and Japan about taking joint action against China.
Pence lashed out at China for focusing its retaliatory tariffs on states vital to the Republicans’ electoral chances.
Touching a particularly sensitive issue for China, Pence attacked Beijing for coaxing three more Latin American nations to switch recognition from Taiwan.
“These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait — and the United States of America condemns them,” Pence said.
Pence also accused Beijing of showing its “aggression” when a Chinese navy vessel recently sailed in the dispute-ridden South China Sea near the USS Decatur destroyer, which according to US officials had to make a quick detour to avoid collision.
The vice president, a favorite of conservative US Christians, also criticized China on human rights, voicing disappointment that rising prosperity has not led to reforms.