VP Pence: China 'Meddling in America's Democracy'

Chinese shipping containers seen at the Port of Long Beach Los Angeles on Sept 29 2018

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

"Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies", Pence added.

Vice-President Mike Pence speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

"To put it bluntly, President Trump's leadership is working, and China wants a different American president", he said.

In a speech of his own last month, Coats also accused China of "unprecedented" cyber activities explicitly aimed at undermining USA interests, but he stopped short of accusing Beijing of engaging in election interference. "They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade".

Trump has justified his tough trade policy against Beijing with accusations that China steals USA intellectual property and limits access to its own market.

A trio of Democratic senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee has written a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats requesting "additional information" about President Trump's accusation, made last week at the United Nations General Assembly in NY, that China has been "attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election".

President Trump has proposed increased tariffs on Chinese goods - costing China perhaps billions in lost trade - in an effort to "equalize" trade between the two nations and reduce what Trump calls an untenable trade deficit.

Much of Pence's remarks are meant to inform the public of what the US government terms as China's covert and overt influence campaign. Pence's speech marks a more aggressive line on China than the Trump administration has held previously, perhaps bolstered by Trump's recent success with rewriting NAFTA.

Washington has long identified China as a major culprit in the cyber hacking of USA government and corporate databases but US 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.

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The unusually expansive and aggressive criticism of Beijing by a senior United States official indicated that Washington could be preparing to take a more confrontational approach with China on issues beyond just the trade dispute.

He'll also make an explicit comparison to Russian interference, saying: "What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what [China] is doing across this country".

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

"In one recent example, they threatened to deny a business license for a major U.S. corporation if it refused to speak out against our administration's policies", the text said, without specifying the company.

Mr 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 militarise them.

"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 U.S. destroyer USS Decatur in the hotly-contested South China Sea Sunday.

"The United States Navy will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows and our national interests demand", Pence said.

He warned Beijing that the USA "will not be intimidated" and "will not stand down".

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