Pence accuses China of 'malign' campaign to undermine Trump

David Wiens

David Wiens Dairy Farmers of Manitoba chair at his farm near Grunthal Man

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 USA elections to help Democrats.

Mr Pence said Beijing had "mobilised covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies" and was targeting its tariffs to hurt states where Mr Trump has strong support. The vice president said a senior American intelligence official told him "what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country".

Pence pointed directly to news coming out about a burgeoning "trade war" between the United States and China.

"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.

While Pence declared that behavior of Russian Federation "pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country", he only cited vague internal declarations by US intelligence agencies and then pointed to an advertisement, purchased by the state-run China Daily newspaper, that was placed in the Des Moines Register that criticized the Trump administration's trade war tactics.

"China is also applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of our country", he said.

Last week at the United Nations Security Council, President Trump said China is interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

Pence's speech at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington marked a sharpened USA approach toward China.

Pence delivered a 40-minute speech at the conservative think tank the Hudson Institute giving the Trump administration's views on China.

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He cited a Chinese government-run media company's four-page supplement in the Sunday Des Moines Register of Iowa as an attempt to turn voters in that state against Trump's trade policies.

Washington has long cited China as a major culprit in the hacking of U.S. government and corporate databases.

"Our intelligence community says China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy".

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. "For example, Google should immediately end development of the "Dragonfly" app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers".

Google used to have a presence in China, but the company pulled out of the country after clashing with Beijing over an uncensored version of its search engine that Google ran out of Hong Kong.

"A Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly manoeuvre to avoid collision".

"There can be no doubt - China is meddling in America's democracy".

Pence ended his speech stating America will not be intimidated and we will not stand down.

Sounding the alarm, Pence warns other nations to be wary of doing business with China, condemning the Asian country's "debt diplomacy" that allows it to draw developing nations into its orbit. The democratically governed island, which China considers part of its own territory, has seen Beijing lure away several of its diplomatic partners in recent months.

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