Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Beijing blasts Pence’s speech on ‘Chinese meddling’

Beijing blasts Pence’s speech on ‘Chinese meddling’

Pence's speech served as a follow-up of sorts to Trump's charge before the U.N. Security Council last month that China was meddling in US elections to help Democrats.

Vice President Mike Pence escalated Washington's pressure campaign against Beijing on Thursday by accusing China of "malign" efforts to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of next month's congressional elections and of reckless military actions in the South China Sea.

"Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies", he said. "As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me just this week, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country and the American people deserve to know".

China's ambassador to the United States 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. 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.

Since then, the vice president says China has targeted more than 80 percent of the counties here in the United States won by Trump in 2016 election.

Casting aside Pence's criticism of China's allegedly malicious influence across the globe, Beijing emphasized it views itself as one of the guarantors of "world peace" and a "defender of worldwide order".

The speech, which will likely strain relations further, came days after a Chinese military vessel almost collided with a US Navy ship in the waters around the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The Trump administration is walking a fine line with China; they need the world power's support to enforce anti-nuclear proliferation agreements made with with North Korea, but they also need to talk a tough game on trade and defense.

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In his prepared remarks, Pence quotes an assessment from the US intelligence community that "China is targeting USA, state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy".

"The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials", he said in a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

"Some of the things that the vice president, and indeed, the president, are saying about Chinese behavior are true, and some are an exaggeration, kind of conspiracy-theoryesque", said Mastro. "They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade".

Google declined comment, except to reiterate that its China search engine project was "exploratory" and not close to launch.

Pence was also to use the phrase "debt diplomacy" in reference to China's efforts to expand its influence worldwide. "We will not be intimidated, and we will not stand down".

Pence mentioned Taiwan several times in the speech, in particular criticising Beijing for pushing three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taipei.

In his speech, Pence said China has built up an "unparalleled surveillance state" that promotes online censorship and can track the populace.

He said a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the Decatur 'as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision. China considers the self-ruled island a wayward province.

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