Pence attacks China on 'predatory' trade, 'coercion' and military 'aggression'

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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday warned that China has initiated an "unprecedented effort" to influence the 2018 and 2020 elections, warning that the communist nation is responding to President Trump's tough trade policies.

China on Friday (Oct 5) rejected United States Vice-President Mike Pence's charge that Beijing was meddling in American elections as "unwarranted" and "ridiculous".

Neither Mr Trump nor Mr Pence provided hard evidence of Chinese meddling.

Scott Kennedy, a senior fellow with the Washington-based think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Pence's speech was the most comprehensive statement the Trump administration had made on China so far, adding that it pointed to serious concerns about China's behaviour in fields such as politics, economics and security.

"It's using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing's political influence", he was to say, adding that the goal is to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies by mobilizing "covert actors, front groups and propaganda outlets".

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.

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.

According to Pence, the USA intelligence community says China is "targeting US state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy".

A Chinese Luyang-class destroyer sailed within 41 metres of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea on Sunday

China is committed to working with the United States for "non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation", she said. The two countries have imposed increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other.

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

Pence also said China had deployed anti-ship and anti-air missiles on islands it is building in the disputed South China Sea, despite promises not to militarize them.

"The more open tone of confrontation from Pence will strengthen the perception in China that the ultimate USA objective in the [trade] dispute is to contain China's rise", the group's analysts led by Asia director, Michael Hirson, wrote. We will not be intimidated.

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.

China has said Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions.

Pence accused China of using its economic power to bully smaller countries and said it had threatened the stability of the Taiwan Strait by pressuring three Latin American countries to sever ties with Taipei and recognise Beijing. China considers the self-ruled island a wayward province.

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