Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration’s Policy Toward China

Vice President Mike Pence speaks Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Pence said China was using its power in "more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies and politics of the United States." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

October 4, 2018



The Hudson Institute

Washington, D.C.

Over the course of the past two years, our President has forged a strong personal relationship with the President of the People’s Republic of China, and they’ve worked closely on issues of common interest, most importantly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But I come before you today because the American people deserve to know that, as we speak, Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.

China is also applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of this country.

In our National Security Strategy that the President Trump released last December, he described a new era of “great power competition.”  Foreign nations have begun to, as we wrote, “reassert their influence regionally and globally,” and they are “contesting [America’s] geopolitical advantages and trying [in essence] to change the international order in their favor.”

In this strategy, President Trump made clear that the United States of America has adopted a new approach to China.  We seek a relationship grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty, and we have taken strong and swift action to achieve that goal.

America had hoped that economic liberalization would bring China into a greater partnership with us and with the world.  Instead, China has chosen economic aggression, which has in turn emboldened its growing military.

At President Trump’s direction, we’re also implementing tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, with the highest tariffs specifically targeting the advanced industries that Beijing is trying to capture and control.  And as the President has also made clear, we will levy even more tariffs, with the possibility of substantially more than doubling that number, unless a fair and reciprocal deal is made.

As President Trump has made clear, we don’t want China’s markets to suffer.  In fact, we want them to thrive.  But the United States wants Beijing to pursue trade policies that are free, fair, and reciprocal.  And we will continue to stand and demand that they do.

Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests.  It’s employing this power in more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies of this country and to interfere in the politics of the United States.

The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials.

And worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.  To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; and China wants a different American President.

There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy. As President Trump said just last week, we have, in his words, “found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming [midterm] election[s].”

Our intelligence community says that “China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy.  It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence.”

Fortunately, Americans aren’t buying it.  For example, American farmers are standing with this President and are seeing real results from the strong stands that he’s taken, including this week’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, where we’ve substantially opened North American markets to U.S. products.  The USMCA is a great win for American farmers and American manufacturers.

But beyond business and entertainment, the Chinese Communist Party is also spending billions of dollars on propaganda outlets in the United States and, frankly, around the world.

China Radio International now broadcasts Beijing-friendly programs on over 30 U.S. outlets, many in major American cities.  The China Global Television Network reaches more than 75 million Americans, and it gets its marching orders directly from its Communist Party masters.

It’s for those reasons and that reality that, last month, the Department of Justice ordered that network to register as a foreign agent.

But the media isn’t the only place where the Chinese Communist Party seeks to foster a culture of censorship.  The same is true across academia.

But our message to China’s rulers is this: This President will not back down.  The American people will not be swayed.  And we will continue to stand strong for our security and our economy, even as we hope for improved relations with Beijing.

Our administration is going to continue to act decisively to protect America’s interests, American jobs, and American security.

As we rebuild our military, we will continue to assert American interests across the Indo-Pacific.

As we respond to China’s trade practices, we will continue to demand an economic relationship with China that is free, fair, and reciprocal.  We will demand that Beijing break down its trade barriers, fulfill its obligations, fully open its economy — just as we have opened ours.

We’ll continue to take action against Beijing until the theft of American intellectual property ends once and for all.  And we will continue to stand strong until Beijing stops the predatory practice of forced technology transfer.  We will protect the private property interests of American enterprise.

And to advance our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, we’re building new and stronger bonds with nations that share our values across the region, from India to Samoa.  Our relationships will flow from a spirit of respect built on partnership, not domination.

And when it comes to Beijing’s malign influence and interference in American politics and policy, we will continue to expose it, no matter the form it takes.  We will work with leaders at every level of society to defend our national interests and most cherished ideals.  The American people will play the decisive role — and, in fact, they already are.

And under President Trump’s leadership, I can assure you, America will stay the course.  China should know that the American people and their elected officials in both parties are resolved.

As our National Security Strategy states: We should remember that “Competition does not always mean hostility,” nor does it have to.  The President has made clear, we want a constructive relationship with Beijing where our prosperity and security grow together, not apart.  While Beijing has been moving further away from this vision, China’s rulers can still change course and return to the spirit of reform and opening that characterize the beginning of this relationship decades ago.  The American people want nothing more; and the Chinese people deserve nothing less.

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that reads, “Men see only the present, but heaven sees the future.”  As we go forward, let us pursue a future of peace and prosperity with resolve and faith.  Faith in President Trump’s leadership and vision, and the relationship that he has forged with China’s president.  Faith in the enduring friendship between the American people and the Chinese people.  And Faith that heaven sees the future — and by God’s grace, America and China will meet that future together.