The U.S. confrontation with China that has been ramping up over the past year due to heightened trade tensions, military showdowns, and diplomatic ill will escalated to new levels on Thursday with a double-barreled assault on Beijing’s growing economic and geopolitical heft.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivered the administration’s most searing indictment yet of the threat that China’s rise poses to U.S. interests generally—and the Trump administration in particular—in a much-anticipated speech Thursday. The same day, a Bloomberg News report citing current and former U.S. intelligence officials alleged that Chinese army elements hacked Chinese-manufactured hardware used by dozens of big U.S. technology firms and government entities, raising serious questions about the security of Chinese-made gear and the country’s future role in the global high-tech supply chain.
Pence, in a speech meant to highlight what he called China’s pushback against the Trump administration’s tough stance toward Beijing, attacked China’s “meddling in America’s democracy,” though he offered no new evidence for the administration’s claim that Beijing is interfering in next month’s U.S. midterm elections. Among a litany of other complaints about Chinese behavior, Pence also specifically denounced China’s state-led trade and economic practices that “have built Beijing’s manufacturing base, at the expense of its competitors—especially America.”
The speech was a resounding rejection of the policy that U.S. leaders have generally pursued for more than two decades, seeking greater trade ties with Beijing, bringing the country into the World Trade Organization, and investing heavily in its economic modernization.
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