China-US relations

China trade war and spies: how Mike Pence talked tough but left door open for reconciliation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 11:01am

US Vice-President Mike Pence last week delivered a candid, detailed account of the American anger towards the People’s Republic of China on all fronts (“Pence hits out at China, saying it’s trying to sabotage elections” October 5). His October 4 speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington was the most important diplomatic rhetoric since the open door policy of then-secretary of state John Hay in 1900 and the rapprochement in Sino-American relations in 1972.

Pence's allegations of Chinese infringement of World Trade Organisation norms, of Beijing seeking to interfere in the upcoming US midterm elections, and spying and espionage activities on all fronts are serious. The tone of the speech was de facto an ultimatum, provided all these allegations are fully justified.

Pence accuses China of meddling in upcoming US elections

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The recent rise of China has seen it become the No 1 competitor of the United States as a superpower. But Pence rightly pointed out that competition does not mean hostility. The space race and the Olympic Games are arenas that have not turned competition into real wars. Despite the space race in the 1960s and the cold war, the US and Russia are now teammates in the international space station. So even arch-rivals are working as a team!

In fact, the US vice-president has prepared some grounds for compromise and reconciliation with China, and may even have extended an olive branch. Although the tone of his speech was a reflection of the White House’s discontent with Beijing, the vice-president quoted words of wisdom from ancient China: “Men see the only present, but heaven sees the future”.

Therefore, if China reviews its strategy and works to narrow the mutual divergences, the US and the People’s Republic may come together to work closely for the economic prosperity of both countries and the world as a whole.

Wai Kong Lo, Yau Ma Tei