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Pence to ramp up criticism of China: Russian efforts 'pales in comparison'

The Hill logo The Hill 10/4/2018 Brett Samuels

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to deliver a speech Thursday calling out China over alleged efforts to influence American politics and policies.

The Associated Press reported that Pence will heighten the Trump administration's criticism of Beijing, and will cite an intelligence official who told him that Russian actions to influence American elections "pales in comparison to what China is doing across the country."

"China wants a different American president," Pence is expected to say in the speech at the Hudson Institute, according to excerpts of prepared remarks obtained by the AP.

"China is targeting U.S., state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy," Pence will reportedly say. "It's using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing's political influence."

Mike Pence wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill

The Trump administration has been locked in an escalating trade dispute with China in recent months, with President Trump ordering more than $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, and Beijing responding with tens of billions of dollars in duties on American imports.

The two countries have also not seen eye-to-eye on military matters, particularly regarding activity in the South China Sea.

Pence is expected to address that area as well, vowing that the U.S. will "not be intimidated" and "will not stand down."

Trump further ratcheted up tensions last week at the United Nations General Assembly, where he alleged that China was interfering in the 2018 U.S. elections to hurt Republicans because Beijing is unhappy with his trade policies.

China rejected the allegation during the U.N. meeting, saying the country "did not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs."

The Trump administration's claims that China is seeking to undermine it comes roughly a month before the midterm elections, where Republicans are seeking to fend off Democratic efforts to retake control of the House and Senate.

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