In broad attack on China, US Vice President Pence offers scant evidence of election meddling

World Today

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, at the Hudson Institute in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Last week at the United Nations, U.S. President Trump, without citing evidence, accused China of meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

He said that his Vice President Mike Pence would lay out the evidence, and on Thursday in Washington, DC, Pence gave a speech which again was short on evidence but long on accusations.

Calling out everything from Chinese behavior in the South China Sea to what he called China’s “debt diplomacy” in Africa and beyond, Pence told his audience, “Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests.“

Pence called out Beijing for convincing three Latin American nations to recognize Beijing as the legitimate and sole government of China, not Taipei, even though Washington made the same move nearly forty years ago.

As to allegations of election meddling, the U.S. vice president spoke broadly, saying China is using its soft power to “interfere in the domestic policies and politics of the United States.”

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying responded to the U.S. Vice President’s remarks, saying that China “strongly opposes” the allegation, which he says is based on “hearsay evidence.”

The speech, Chunying said, “made all kinds of groundless accusations against China’s domestic and foreign policies.”

Pence said that, according to U.S. intelligence, “China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy. It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence.” One piece of so-called evidence Pence singled out is a four-page advertisement placed in the Iowa paper, The Des Moines Register. The supplement, clearly labelled as being paid for by China Daily, an English language Chinese newspaper, has features discussing opposition to US trade policy regarding tariffs. Many other countries including U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, Israel and others have used similar techniques while lobbying U.S. public opinion.

Pence added, “To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; China wants a different American President.”

Unlike with charges of Russian election meddling in the 2016 race, there was no detailed case provided by U.S. intelligence agencies supporting the allegations from the White House. Referring to an unnamed source, Pence only said, “As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what the China is doing across this country.”

Before Pence’s speech, China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, gave an interview to U.S. National Public Radio, telling the show Morning Edition:

“… between any two countries, maybe especially between China and the United States, there is a certain degree of competition. This is only natural. But there’s also a much larger need for cooperation. This is also the reality in today’s world. Our two countries together with other countries are faced with so many common challenges, the so-called global challenges or global issues, and no country can really handle all these things all by itself. We have to cooperate whether we like it or not. This is a growing mutual need and a common interest.”

Pence’s speech dispels any doubt that the White House is taking a much more aggressive stance towards China, not just over trade but in all areas; militarily, diplomatically and culturally.

Three years ago, it was very different-sounding Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana, who had just returned from a trip to China. Back then, he told an assembled audience:

“Indiana and China are stronger together. In the years since our friendship formed, Hoosier students have gained a broader worldview through cultural exchanges. And as global understanding grows, so does economic growth. Today Chinese companies are creating great Hoosier jobs in all corners of our state, and Indiana-based companies are thriving globally. Through the relationships we’re forming on this trip, I’m confident that this is just the beginning of generations of growth to come.”

CGTN fact checks Vice President Pence’s speech

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CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Victor Gao, Vice President at the Center for China and Globalization, who said that Vice President Pence’s speech amounted to a 40-minute attack on China at a time when more diplomacy is needed.

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CGTN’s Sean Callebs spoke with Qinduo Xu, Senior Fellow at the Pangoal Institution about the impact of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s speech on China.

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