Step Aside Russia: Pence Accuses China Of "Meddling In American Democracy"

Update: Highlights from Pence's speech (via Bloomberg):

  • *PENCE SAYS TRUMP HAS MADE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA `A PRIORITY'

  • *PENCE: CHINA USING WHOLE-OF-GOVT APPROACH TO INFLUENCE U.S.

  • *PENCE: HOPE THAT FREEDOM IN CHINA WOULD EXPAND WENT UNFULFILLED

  • *PENCE: CHINA USING STOLEN TECH TO TURN PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS

  • *PENCE: CHINA POLICY HAS USED CURRENCY MANIPULATION, IP THEFT

  • *PENCE: CHINA USES `DEBT DIPLOMACY' TO EXPAND ITS INFLUENCE

  • *PENCE: CHINA EXTENDED LIFELINE TO `CORRUPT' MADURO REGIME

  • *PENCE SAYS CHINA IS MEDDLING IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

  • *PENCE SAYS WHAT RUSSIANS DOING `PALES' IN COMPARISON TO CHINA

  • *PENCE: U.S. WILL ASSERT AMERICAN INTERESTS ACROSS INDO-PACIFIC

  • *PENCE CALLS FOR GOOGLE TO END DRAGONFLY APP DEVELOPMENT

So that confirms it - China is the new enemy number 1. Xi is the new Putin!

*  *  *

The White House is about to ratchet up tensions possibly far beyond what they already are amidst the ongoing US trade war with China.

At 11 a.m. eastern time Vice President Mike Pence will deliver at address at the neoconservative Hudson Institute where he's expected to call China out on a number of explosive issues around the globe where Beijing's increasingly aggressive actions are seen as a threat to the US, but will especially focus on the Sunday incident involving the USS Decatur which was dangerously intercepted by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea. 

The Chinese ship reportedly came within a mere 45 yards of the American warship in international waters; however, it's but the latest in a string of such threatening incidents intended by Beijing to lay claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea on the basis of its man-made island chains. 

According to Reuters, which has previewed the speech, Pence will say Beijing's actions were dangerously provocative toward the USS Decatur “as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision.”

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated. We will not stand down,” Pence will say.

Pence is also expected to address the issue of the Chinese Communist Party of recently convincing three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taiwan and recognize China.

Pence will address the issue in the following: “These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait – and the United States of America condemns them. And while our administration will continue to respect our One China Policy, as reflected in the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, let me also say that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people,” he will say.

Meanwhile President Trump signaled recently the he hopes to cool tensions by calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a friend even after he hit china with tariffs on $200 billion in goods. However, at a news conference last week in New York Trump said, “Maybe he’s not any more, I’ll be honest with you.” During a UN General Assembly meeting Trump had shocked diplomats and heads of state by leveling the charge of election meddling in November's mid-term elections, a charge which Beijing rejected. 

Pence will further address China's expanding economic influence world wide, which the White House accuses of using “debt diplomacy” to pressure countries to conform to Beijing's policies: “Today, that country is offering hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to governments from Asia to Africa to Europe to even Latin America. Yet the terms of those loans are opaque at best, and the benefits flow overwhelmingly to Beijing,” he is expected say.

This includes China extending up to $5 billion in loans to the “the corrupt and incompetent Maduro regime in Venezuela,” which can be repaid with oil. Globally, Pence will say, “It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence.” 

Concerning recent charges of a massive uptick in Chinese spying on American soil, Pence will outline the goal of covert influence operations as shifting Americans' perception of China by mobilizing “covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets.”

“As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” Pence will say. This will include specific accusations of unprecedented economic involving “leveraging their desire to maintain their operations in China.”

“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,” Pence will say. However, it's not expected that the particular corporation will be named. 

It appears that the White House is set to make the case Russia will now step aside as American "enemy #1" and will focus efforts on deterring the new more pervasive China threat. 

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