Excerpt: Remarks by Vice President Pence at the 2019 Munich Security Conference

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the 2019 Munich Security Conference | Munich, Germany

So while we’re standing with our allies, strengthening NATO, and standing up to aggression, President Trump’s leadership is also bringing about historic change in the Indo-Pacific.  The United States seeks an Indo-Pacific where independent nations boldly pursue their own interests, respecting their neighbors as equals; where societies, beliefs, and traditions flourish side by side; where individuals exercise their God-given liberties to pursue their dreams and chart their destinies.

But as President Trump has said, for years the United States has faced “tremendous tariffs” in our trading relations with China.  Those actions have contributed to a $375 billion goods trade deficit with the United States last year alone.  To address that, at the President’s direction, the United States has taken decisive action.  We’ve put tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and made it clear that we could more than double that number.

But as President Trump has made clear, we hope for better.

As we gather here, negotiations are underway in Beijing to redefine our trading relationship.  And our negotiations are not simply about the trade imbalance.  Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has also made it clear that China must address the longstanding issues of intellectual-property theft, forced technology transfer, and other structural issues in China that have placed a burden on our economy and on economies around the world.

President Trump has great respect for President Xi, and so do I.  And the President remains hopeful that, as those negotiations continue, we’ll be able to make real progress and establishing trade between our two countries that is free, fair, and reciprocal.

Now, other issues will remain: the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, debt diplomacy, interference in domestic political affairs, and the rights of religious minorities in China.  And Beijing knows where we stand.

And while America will keep standing strong, we’ll also keep remaining hopeful, as these discussions continue, that we’ll be able to take this first step to redefine our relationship based on reciprocity and mutual respect, and in so doing, make it possible to address other issues to the benefit of the United States and China, and the world.

China has an honored place in our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific if it chooses to respect its neighbors’ sovereignty; embrace free, fair, and reciprocal trade; and uphold human rights and freedom.  The American people want nothing more, and the Chinese people and the entire Indo-Pacific deserve nothing less.

In one other respect, it’s remarkable to think how far we’ve come under President Trump’s leadership in the Indo-Pacific.  When I stood at this podium two years ago, North Korea was engaged in regular nuclear tests, launching missiles over Japan, and threatening the United States and our allies.

Faced with this threat, President Trump rallied the world around an unprecedented pressure campaign.  And the world has witnessed the results: No more nuclear tests.  No more missiles being fired.  Our hostages are home.  And Karen and I had the privilege to be present in Hawaii as the remains of our fallen Korean War heroes began to come home.

And then, last year, at their historic summit in Singapore, President Trump received a commitment from Chairman Kim to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.

Now, as we speak, President Trump is preparing for another summit with Chairman Kim in Vietnam in just a few weeks.  And, again, President Trump is hopeful.  He believes peace is possible.  But our allies may be assured: We will not repeat the mistakes of the past.  All nations must continue to stand together, enforce all U.N. Security Council resolutions, and hold North Korea to the commitments it made in the Singapore declaration.  And I can promise you, America will as well.

And while we work for peace, we will continue to stand firm until we achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.  We owe it to our children, to the Indo-Pacific, and to the world.