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President Trump feted by President Xi less than a year ago in China

Pence China Speech Raises Red Flags

Vice President Warns China Is Actively Seeking Recruits To Sabotage Trump On American Soil

By and large, the speech, given at the conservative Hudson Institute, contained a lot of the tough talk you’d expect, and reflected the Trump administration’s increasingly belligerent stance on China, and its unwillingness to come to terms on reducing its trade surplus. We’ve got no problem with that, and even support the President’s position, especially when it comes to theft of intellectual property.

As long as the President realizes China may not cave as easily as he’s predicted. Even though the U.S. is a huge market for them, they are used to making sacrifices, and also have the power to force their people to do so if necessary. Both sides may be bluffing, or neither, but so far it’s China that’s shown more of a siege mentality.

Still, if that’s all there was to talk about, we wouldn’t be talking about it today. Pence’s speech went way beyond: parts of it smacked of something bordering on a new “red scare”. Using incendiary words and phrases, and painted in broad, wild strokes. Here’s the part we’re referring to (click on the photo to play):

Now, with so much else going on in DC these days, the Vice President’s speech got scant coverage in national media. (And that probably doesn’t matter, since it wasn’t really intended for an American audience.) And news outlets in Asia tended to downplay it. Those that did cover it mostly focused on Pence saying:

“China wants a different American President.”

Which absolutely may be true. Pence added to that, borrowing a page out of the Trump playbook, saying an unidentified “someone” told him:

“What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country.”

Pence also expressed support for Taiwan in terms that Beijing is likely to find absolutely incendiary (China claims sovereignty over Taiwan):

“While our administration will continue to respect our one China policy…America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of Democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”

But why would Americans really care about that? How about this then?:

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

How far is that from interrogating Americans and putting them in front of Committees, accusing them of being Communist China sympathizers? Or even recruits or spies? Never mind Nancy Pelosi, how long before Trump begins labeling some of his political adversaries as China’s puppets?

And Pence still wasn’t finished, expanding on his alarmist warnings of attempts by China to co-opt the allegiance of American farmers and businesses, or at least encourage them to turn on Trump.

Pence asserted:

“The tariffs imposed by China today specifically targeted the industries and states that would play an important role in the 2018 elections.”

Of course they do. Trump started a trade war. China retaliated, focusing first on the areas with most immediate significant impact. (Which is always agriculture because, as we’ve explained before, agricultural goods tend to spoil.) They would’ve been stupid not to.

Pence also grumbled:

“China threatened to deny a business license for a major U.S. corporation if they refused to speak out against our administration’s policies.”

Yeah, and that’s called business

Pence complaining about that kind of stuff so loudly actually sends the message to China that if that is indeed their strategy, it’s working. Pence’s is also a completely ludicrous argument to begin with. It’s as if Trump had started an actual war with China and now is complaining because they’re firing back with real bullets and not marshmallows.

At the same time, when we took a peek at the English language version of the state-controlled Xinhua news service, it wasn’t hard to find the kind of thing Pence might also be talking about. For instance. this rather propagandistic profile of a U.S. manufacturer that argues it’s innovation, not Trump’s tariffs, that make his company competitive. Now why did this business owner agree to cooperate for the piece? Who knows? Maybe he didn’t realize it was being written essentially by a branch of the Chinese government. Maybe because he’s proud of his product and doesn’t feel he need or wants Trump’s intervention. Or maybe because he feels if he’s part of the story it’ll result in lots more sales to China. But does that make him disloyal to Trump? A Communist agent? Or worse?

And Bloomberg has a really interesting story about a mysterious chip that was “inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China”, and may have been responsible for hacking into 30 big U.S. companies.

So we’re not arguing that this isn’t something the U.S. needs to be vigilant about. Just that with an administration that’s all about motivating people through fear, and rewarding them by punishing their enemies, is it really that far fetched to imagine we’re headed down a dangerous path?

What if we were accused of being on the Chinese government’s payroll just for writing what we just did?