Allen Carlson: Pence’s speech plays politics, ‘muddies water’ in China-U.S. relationship

Oct. 5, 2018 –Vice President Mike Pence signaled a tougher approach to China this week, delivering a speech in which he is accused China of pursuing “predatory” economic practices, engaging in military aggression toward the United States in the South China Sea and making attempts to sway public opinion of President Trump. Allen Carlson is an associate professor in Cornell University’s Government Department and director of the China and Asia Pacific Studies program, and says that all is not right between the U.S. and China, and a comprehensive review of this relationship is pressing.

Carlson says:

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Clearly all is not right between the U.S. and China.  It would be incredibly naïve to think that this is not the case.

The need for a comprehensive American review of the relationship is pressing.  However, Vice President Pence’s speech today proclaiming that the Chinese do not like President Trump and forwarding still unsubstantiated claims of Chinese meddling in U.S. elections (while the administration continues to downplay documented Russian efforts in the same vein), does not constitute such a review.

In other words, it is imperative that we take the challenge of Xi’s China seriously, beginning with an urgent focus on his state’s mistreatment of the Muslim Uyghur population of Xinjiang, rather than playing politics with the world’s single most important bilateral relationship  Mixing loose talk of election interference and perceived Chinese animosity toward President Trump in with this issue, and the other serious concerns within the relationship, does more to muddy the waters across the Pacific than it does to produce greater clarity within the U.S.-China relationship.