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

The comments echoed those by President Donald Trump recently.

China has mounted an unprecedented effort to not only meddle American elections, but also shape the public opinion of the country, which makes pale the efforts of other countries through lobbying, the White House alleged as it fielded the vice president to issue a strong warning to China and make Americans aware of the real Chinese intentions.

China hit back furiously on Friday, branding Pence's accusation "ridiculous".

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.

Highlighting the Trump administration's focus on renewed great power competition with China and Russian Federation, the vice president insisted that the USA will employ "decisive action to respond to China".

"It is very ridiculous for the United States side to stigmatize its normal exchanges and cooperation with China as China interfering in its internal affairs and elections", the statement said, instead accusing Washington of infringing on the sovereignty of other nations.

Relations between the world's two largest economies have plummeted in recent weeks with Trump placing $250bn in tariffs on Chinese goods, in part over charges that Beijing forces U.S. companies to hand over technological know-how.

China has responded to Trump's decision to levy tariffs on $250 billion of its exports with its own tariffs on USA goods, including soybeans and other agricultural products.

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

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But his statements on the November US elections were at the forefront of his speech.

"Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies", Pence added. "China wants to turn these voters against our administration". "It's using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing's political influence".

Mr. Pence will report that the USA intelligence community has concluded that China is targeting state and local government and officials to exploit divisions between federal and local policy, such as tariffs.

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

Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science at Lingnan University, said Beijing was beginning to realise the resolute intentions of the United States to contain China's rise.

In the prepared remarks provided by his office, Pence charges that China is targeting "industries and states that would play an important role in the 2018 election" as it responds to Trump's protectionist trade tariffs on China. They also said it was the first time a senior US official had delivered such a "broadside" against China on an array of issues.

Pence also accused China of "reckless harassment" because of an incident on Sunday in which a USA destroyer, the Decatur, traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.

The vice president, a favourite of conservative US Christians, also criticised China on human rights, voicing disappointment that rising prosperity has not led to reforms. "A new wave of persecution is crashing down on Chinese Christians, Buddhists and Muslims".

When we see other countries taking advantage of our openness and our freedom of speech to try and push us in a particular direction, obviously favorable to policies China wants to see.

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