The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin traveled with Vice President Mike Pence aboard the Air Force Two recently. Vice President Mike Pence became the VP to President Trump for many reasons, one was because of his economic successes that he had in Indiana.
The story he brought with him is scary, to say the least. The US is willing and prepared to go all out in its confrontation with China on multiple fronts. If China does not fall in line, it faces an all-out cold war with the US.
Talking to Rogin, the Vice President revealed the aggressive stand and said that his administration will not hesitate to dramatically alter its policies on China if it does not accede to the US demands. Coming against the backdrop of the continuing tariff war, the comment is indicative of China facing more severe action from the US on more fronts.
These include actions against China’s blatant and widespread intellectual property theft, China’s refusal to recognize the US’ right to “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, and its opposition to the US’ support to democratic Taiwan.
The Possibility of an All-Out Cold War
At this juncture during their talks, Pence dramatically announced the US’ readiness to go for an all-out cold war with China if it fails to “fundamentally” alter its position on the multiple issues that cloud the two countries’ relations.
What Rogin found to be alarming was Pence’s resolute tone in saying the US “won’t back down.” Coming from the proverbial horse’s mouth, the forewarning cannot be taken as a vain threat, and must be construed as a potential reality in near future.
The blunt threat has come after months of rapidly worsening bilateral relations. Also, considering Russia’s increasing coziness with China, it can be said that the US has factored in this aspect while issuing the cold-war threat; in fact, it does not mind it.
It does seem that the US-China relations are past the phase of pure rhetoric and are now entering the phase of accelerated aggressive action.
The Threat Precedes Trump-Xi Meeting
The timing of Pence’s comments made them all the more ominously significant. They come just before President Trump’s scheduled meeting with the Chinese premier Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November of 2018.
Pence used the occasion to talk to Rogin to let China know what it can expect at the upcoming meeting. And the fact that he added that the meeting was China’s “best” chance to deflect a cold-war situation, only makes Washington’s position firmer and clearer.
Pence also added that President Trump would be in a strong position to deal with Xi, and he “won’t back down.” Already, there were $250 billion worth in tariffs, and the US was in a position to more than double it, Pence said.
Facing that eventuality, Beijing may be wise to accede to Washington’s demands. Looking to the firmness in Pence’s tone, Trump may not be willing to give another chance to Xi to mend his ways.