Pence accuses China of 'malign' campaign to undermine Trump

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Vice President Mike Pence launched a broad attack against Beijing Thursday, accusing China of "predatory" economic practices, military aggression against the United States and of trying to undermine President Donald Trump and harm his chances of winning re-election. But U.S. 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.

"Going into elections, Trump has got to look like a strong leader and it helps to have an enemy overseas - this is a truism of global relations", said Rosita Dellios, an associate worldwide relations professor at Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia.

Pence said Beijing, with an eye not only to the congressional elections but also to Trump's 2020 re-election bid, had "mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies" and was targeting its tariffs to hurt states where Trump has strong support.

A senior official in the Trump administration official told reporters that Pence's speech reflects a United States decision to take a more assertive approach in dealing with China that is more "constructive and results oriented".

China said a Chinese warship had been sent to warn the USA vessel to leave an area of irrefutable Chinese sovereignty.

Pence said in a speech that business leaders are now thinking twice before entering the Chinese market "if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing's oppression".

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"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", he said.

Pence's speech is the latest sign of deteriorating ties between the US and China, as the two nuclear powers tussle over everything from trade to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

"They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade", he said September 26 during remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting in NY. Our intelligence community says that China is targeting USA state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy.

The Trump administration also asserted Thursday that Chinese "economic aggression" has helped undermine the global competitiveness of defence-oriented US industries. And Mr. Trump's first national security strategy released past year labeled China a "revisionist power" alongside Russian Federation.

The report, which resulted from a Trump directive in July 2017 to assess the health of industries whose products and services are important to national defence, also accused China of "systematic theft" of US weapons systems and the illicit transfer of dual-use technology that has upset the military balance between the USA and China. But he pointed to a document Beijing circulated in June titled "Propaganda and Censorship Notice", which laid out a broader influence campaign, similar to Russia's ongoing disinformation campaign against the U.S.

In a speech laden with red flags for the Chinese leadership, Pence will also say that Taiwan's embrace of democracy "shows a better path for all the Chinese people".

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In an unusual and aggressive speech against China, the Vice President alleged that the ruling Chinese Communist Party was rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists and local, state and federal officials. "They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade". "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", he alleged.

-Beijing's censors edit or outlaw USA movies that criticize China.

Pence also criticized China over its patrols near Japanese-administered islands claimed by Beijing - known as the Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in China. After the institute offered to host a speaker from Beijing that Chinese officials opposed, its website was hit with a cyberattack that originated from Shanghai, he said.

He also accused China of using "debt diplomacy" to trap other countries into political cooperation through "questionable loans" to nation's such as Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

"It's not that other countries don't hire lobbyists and that sort of thing", national security adviser John Bolton told reporters hours after Pence's speech.

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