U.S. Vice President Articulates Hard Line on China in Speech
In a sharply critical speech on Thursday, U.S. Vice
President Mike Pence delivered a systematic indictment of China, touching on
politics, security, human rights and trade policy, portending a much tougher
administration line on China policy over the coming months. The speech centered
around the allegation President Trump made at the UN General Assembly
last week that China is seeking to undermine the U.S. president by
interfering in the upcoming midterms. "Beijing is pursuing a comprehensive and
coordinated campaign to undermine support for the president, our agenda, and
our nation's most cherished ideals," Pence said in his remarks at the Hudson
Institute in Washington D.C. on Thursday (available in full on our website.)
Pence also accused China of using a variety of
methods to advance its interests globally, and particularly in the Asia
Pacific, including economic coercion, military aggression, predatory trade
policies and "debt diplomacy." The Chinese government was
quick to respond to Pence's depiction. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "The relevant speech made unwarranted accusations against China's
domestic and foreign policies and slandered China by claiming that China
meddles in U.S. internal affairs and elections."
Although prior to the speech senior officials — including President Trump —
made overt comparisons to Russia, Pence's speech did not cite evidence of
election interference. On Thursday, three Senate Democrats sent a letter to
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to request the release of "supporting intelligence" by Oct 8. "We request
that you state publicly whether the president's statement is consistent with
the assessments of the Intelligence Community," the letter reads.
In an interview with NPR on Thursday morning, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S., Cui
Tiankai, said that there was insufficient goodwill and good faith between
the U.S. and China, which was hampering efforts for the two countries to come
to an agreement on disputes. "I think there's been some attempt on the U.S.
side to force something like the U.S. will get 100 percent, and China will get
zero. I don't think this is fair," he said.
Meet the New NAFTA: USMCA
After weeks of trade tensions with its
continental partners and over a year of negotiations, on Sunday the United
States finalized an updated agreement with Canada and Mexico. While many have
described the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as merely "NAFTA 2.0," the new agreement contains major changes on
environmental standards, labor and intellectual property policies. And while
the title implies that the deal solely affects trade between the U.S., Mexico
and Canada, clauses of the agreement may have dramatic consequences for trade
policy with other nations, including China.
Specifically, Article 32.10 provides the United States with
the ability to veto trade deals between, say, Canada and China if the U.S.
dislikes the terms of that bilateral agreement. "Entry by any Party into a free
trade agreement with a non-market country,
shall allow the other Parties to terminate this Agreement on six-month notice," the
relevant provision reads. As China-US Focus contributor Hugh Stephens noted for The Globe and Mail, this provision
was "about containing China, and circumscribing
Economic observers argue that President Trump
may take the completion of a deal with Canada and Mexico, particularly after
clashes between the American president and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts over immigration and
trade, as a justification of his protectionist policy. But as Martin Wolf
argues in an article on our website, President Trump would be wrong
to extend this confidence to dealings
with China, saying, "The apparent victory over Canada and Mexico and the
signing of a new trade deal will convince him he is right. But China is not
While Presidents Donald Trump, Enrique Peña
Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau plan to sign the agreement prior to President Peña Nieto's departure from office in November, the USMCA still must be ratified by the three governments. With
several forecasts of the American midterm elections predicting a partisan
shake-up, challenges for the passage of the USMCA may be far from over.
Near Collision in the South China Sea
A near collision between a U.S. navy warship
and a Chinese warship in waters near the highly-contested
Spratly Islands this past Sunday sparked strong responses from both
sides, threatening further deterioration in military relations between China
and the U.S. While conducting a freedom of navigation operation near Gaven
Reef, the USS Decatur was approached to within 45 yards by a Chinese "Luyang
class" destroyer, compelling it to switch direction.
Captain Charles Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said the Chinese ship "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers
accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area."
Meanwhile, China's Defense Ministry said that it had
dispatched the ship to warn the U.S. vessel to depart, "ma[king] checks against
the U.S. vessel in accordance with the law," as spokesman Wu Qian said.
The incident is likely to compound tensions
between Washington and Beijing, who have had recurring differences of opinion
on freedom of navigations operations in the contested area. Officials from both
countries reinforced their stances in statements about the incident this week.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that China
"strongly urges the U.S. side to. . .stop such provocative
operations," while an American military official told CNN that "the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever
international law allows."
As China-US Focus contributor Richard Weitz noted Friday, "The PLA's growing global
presence has generated more instances when Chinese and U.S. military forces
have operated in proximity, elevating the risks of further bilateral military
incidents, whether due to accidents, miscalculation, or other causes."
What Happened at the UN General Assembly?
General Assembly members from 193 states met
last week to discuss global issues at the United Nations. In the newest episode
of "At Large," James Chau takes a step back from the headline-grabbing moments
of the General Assembly to concentrate on the important work being done. James
reviews the converging interests of China and the U.S. on the denuclearization
of the Korean Peninsula and explores how they can work together in achieving
this goal. He also examines the divide between the two countries on the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Deal). Listen to the new episode of "At