By David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence escalated Washington’s pressure campaign against Beijing on Thursday by accusing China of using a range of tools to interfere in American politics ahead of next month’s U.S. congressional elections.
In what was billed as a major policy address, Pence sought to build on President Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations last week in which he alleged that China was attempting to meddle in the pivotal Nov. 6 elections to punish him for of his trade stance. Neither Trump nor Pence provided hard evidence of Chinese meddling.
Pence’s speech at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington marked a sharpened U.S. approach toward China. It goes beyond the bitter trade war between the world’s two biggest economies and includes disputes such as cyber activities, Taiwan and the South China Sea.
“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.
“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.
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Trott)