Pence accuses Beijing of meddling in US elections: ‘China wants a different American president’
05 October, 2018, 08:43
Pence's speech at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington marked a sharpened United States approach toward China. But he said the claim that China was working to defeat Trump at the ballot box "rings hollow" and the approach could be counterproductive.
Beijing, of course, has been open about its opposition to new tariffs imposed by Trump and has made no mystery about its strategy of letting USA farming communities and other industries understand that its economic retaliation would be targeted at Trump's political base.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded to Trump's comments at the meeting, saying that China follows a principle of non-interference in other countries domestic affairs.
Relations between the world's two largest economies have plummeted in recent weeks with Trump placing $250bn in tariffs on Chinese goods, in part over charges that Beijing forces USA companies to hand over technological know-how.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers a speech at the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) in Washington, U.S., August 24, 2018.
Pence accused the Chinese of suppressing its citizens at home with the creation of "an unparalleled surveillance state", of brutally repressing religious minorities and of oppressing countries overseas through loan programs that favor Beijing and leave those nations beholden to China.
Pence also denounced China's manoeuvres in the South China Sea, its oppression of Christians, Muslims and other religious believers, and Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature infrastructure and foreign policy initiative.
"Beijing has mobilised covert actors, front groups and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies", he said.
"What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country", he added.
The unusually expansive and aggressive criticism of Beijing by a senior USA official indicated that Washington could be preparing to take a more confrontational approach with China on issues beyond just the trade dispute.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian defended the naval maneuver on Tuesday, accusing the U.S. of threatening China's sovereignty and safety by repeatedly sending warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea.
"Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down", he says.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington referred queries about Pence's speech to an interview that China's ambassador, Cui Tiankai, gave to National Public Radio on Wednesday.
He was also to say that Chinese officials have tried to influence business leaders to condemn U.S. trade actions, "leveraging their desire to maintain their operations in China".
"China's aggression was on display this week", he said, referring to a risky encounter between the People's Liberation Army Navy destroyer Lanzhou and the USA destroyer USS Decatur in the hotly-contested South China Sea Sunday.
Pence pointed directly to news coming out about a burgeoning "trade war" between the United States and China.