Former Vice President Mike Pence returned to the international policy stage to slam the Biden administration’s handling of China.
Pence reminded the international community that “China has emerged as America’s greatest threat” in a Heritage Foundation lecture on Wednesday. “The American people recognize today what our administration brought to the fore,” said Pence at the Heritage Foundation’s B.C. Lee lecture, asserting that the Trump administration had “changed the national consensus” on the communist regime.
But this consensus, says Pence, does not seem to be shared by the current administration. The former vice president asserted that America’s current relationship with China has enabled the Chinese Communist Party’s growth, including recent military aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
Pence attacked the Biden administration’s concessions, including the rejoining of the World Health Organization and the Paris climate agreement, as “roll[ing] over” to the CCP.
The former vice president was clear: “My sense is that China senses weakness in this administration.”
Pence focused on indicators of weakness in the United States armed forces, including an inability to counteract the CCP’s growing military influence. He mentioned recent negative trends in America’s military, such as an increased focus on wokeness and a decrease in defense spending.
He also scolded the Biden administration in the wake of China’s recent claim to have repelled the U.S. Navy while American ships were engaged in lawful maritime operation. This weakness in America’s Navy has been highlighted as of late — a recent report indicated “numerous cultural and structural issues” in the force, including “insufficient focus on warfighting skills” and “over-sensitivity … to modern media culture.”
In keeping with the general tone of the Trump administration, Pence called for the increased “readiness” of American armed forces: “The Western Hemisphere is off-limits to Chinese neocolonialism.”
Pence also pushed Biden to stand up to the CCP on the information front, including the unclear origins of COVID-19. He referenced growing evidence of the lab leak theory, slamming the CCP’s “recklessness, incompetence, and corruption.” Pence asserted that America’s funding of Chinese gain-of-function research left America “complicit” in the rise of Chinese influence, compromising American independence both in medical research and drug production.
Adding to the theme of American independence from China, Pence called for the Biden administration to take action to protect American intellectual property. He referenced the administration’s recent move to expand distribution of visas to workers in “specialty occupations,” including Chinese nationals. Pence said that, until the CCP can be trusted, the practice must be terminated, along with support of the Confucius Institute, a cultural center suspected of stealing American intellectual property.
Pence went on to decry the hypocrisy of American businesses “preach[ing] social justice” while doing business with China: “The China problem was made and manufactured right here in the U.S.”
But the former vice president ended his remarks on a note of hope. In the wake of the Biden administration’s tense meeting with Chinese officials, Pence issued a call to stand firm against enemies of American values, even powerful and commercially advantageous ones: “We will never abandon our values for the sake of commerce.”
As a summit between Xi Jinping and Biden becomes more of a possibility, Pence exhorted the U.S. to see the present moment as an opportunity to push for a freer China, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb: “Men see only the present, but heaven sees the future.”
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