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

'We will not stand down,' VP Pence warns China

'We will not stand down,' VP Pence warns China

Pence alleged China was waging a sophisticated effort to sway the November 6 elections against Trump's Republican Party in retaliation for his trade policies against Beijing and vowed to continue to expose Beijing's "malign influence and interference". As evidence, he pointed to a recent advertisement that a Chinese state media outlet placed in the Des Moines Register, an Iowa newspaper.

"Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election", Trump said. But U.S. officials and independent analysts say they have not detected the kind of systematic manipulation of social media and hacking of emails that Russian Federation is alleged to have engaged in during the 2016 election, which Trump won.

He was also to say that Chinese officials have tried to influence business leaders to condemn USA trade actions, "leveraging their desire to maintain their operations in China".

Mr Pence also joined other U.S. officials in denouncing Beijing's crackdown on minority Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Nor has any official said election infrastructure has been targeted by China or any other foreign adversary, though several have stressed that a number of foreign actors have the will and the capability to engage in election interference.

On a separate briefing call with reporters on Thursday about the administration's newly unveiled National Strategy for Counterterrorism, National Security Adviser John Bolton, responding to a question about China's actions, said he expected there would be "more on this subject in the weeks and months ahead".

Pence followed that up, saying intelligence assessments found that China is targeting USA state and local governments as well as officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy.

He accused China of waging a sophisticated influence campaign against Mr Trump's Republican Party in retaliation for his trade policies against Beijing.

Pence also warns American businesses to be vigilant against Chinese efforts to leverage access to their markets to modify corporate behavior to their liking.

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Troubling, Mastro added, the framing of China as a "meddler" in USA elections recreates the unhelpful "Cold-War ideological battle" which is not good for ongoing and future relations.

China expert Chris Johnson, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst now at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Pence's speech appeared aimed in part at building a narrative that a vote for the Democrats would be a vote for China.

Pence also slammed China's militarization of contested areas in the South and East China Sea, its practice of "debt diplomacy" in developing countries, and its efforts to convince other nations to sever ties with Taiwan.

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.

"Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows and our national interests demand".

One of the most pressing concerns is Beijing's control over the supply of critical technologies and materials, which could pose a significant risk to United States industries that are vital to national security, the report said.

Mr Pence said: "As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country".

The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

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