Republican Pence: "China may not be an evil empire yet – but it is working hard to become one"
Photo: RYAN M. KELLY / AFP
Former U.S. Vice President and current contender in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mike Pence, is sharpening his tone towards China. The country is on the verge of becoming an "evil empire," Pence said in a speech at the conservative think tank Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
"China may not be an evil empire yet – but it is working hard to become one," Pence said, according to Reuters. China is "the greatest strategic and economic threat to the U.S. in the 21st century," Pence said. He spoke out in favor of increasing the supply of weapons to Taiwan and scaling back economic relations between the United States and China. Pence also called for a ban on the Chinese social media app Tiktok.
Pence emphasizes support for Ukraine
With regard to the war in Ukraine, Pence spoke out in favor of further military aid to Kyiv. Without naming names, he criticized the "isolationism" of some competitors. The remarks are apparently a swipe at some Republicans, including Trump, who had questioned previous support for Ukraine.
Pence is apparently trying to sharpen his foreign policy profile with the statements. In the internal election campaign of the Republicans, the former vice president is lagging behind his former boss Trump, who is also running for a second term. Foreign policy speeches by other Republicans, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are expected shortly.
When criticizing China, politicians can rely on the support of the population. According to a survey by the Pew Research polling institute, around half of Americans consider China to be the greatest threat to the United States, well ahead of Russia.
Blinken exchanges views with China's vice president
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is trying to normalize exchanges with China on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. A meeting with China's Vice President Han Zheng on Monday was "open and constructive," Blinken's ministry said. The U.S. wanted to use diplomacy to advance the interests and values of the United States and to debate differences. According to US sources, the two politicians spoke about Russia's war against Ukraine, the Taiwan issue and North Korea.
Confident tones also came from Beijing. As reported by the state news agency Xinhua, Han expressed the hope that China and the US could meet "halfway" and show more understanding. At the same time, he emphasized that "more honesty" is needed to solve the "difficulties and challenges" between the two countries.