During a speech on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence called out China for interfering in United States elections.
Pence spoke at a Hudson Institute event in Washington, during which he spoke about China, calling them our for coercive and interference activities, saying “[what] the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” according to PBS News Hour.
“China wants a different American president,” Pence said. He said China is has focused on employing its power to affect the U.S. in numerous ways, having “initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.”
“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,” Pence said.
He said China has been seeking out any vulnerabilities such as policy disputes in all levels of government – from federal to local levels – to exploit those issues for China’s benefit. He also asserted that China is manipulating American companies by threatening to prohibit them from doing business in China if it doesn’t adhere to an anti-U.S. agenda.
#breaking VP Pence just accused China of election meddling: “China is targeting US 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”
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) October 4, 2018
“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 our country,” he said. “Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans’ perception of Chinese policies.”
Pence’s remarks follow similar accusations made by President Trump last week at the United Nations Security Council meeting. “Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said at the meeting. “They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
Trump later tweeted references and images of China’s efforts, which entailed several pages of newspaper advertisements with pro-China stories, presented to look like news articles instead of the paid advertisements they were.
The President also suggested there was additional evidence of China’s meddling in U.S. elections, which he could not yet discuss, but would eventually reveal to the public.
China’s ability to interfere in U.S. elections was one of the reasons behind President Trump’s executive order last month, which imposed strong sanctions any entity found to be engaged in meddling activities.
“It’s only a keyboard click away,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at the time.