United States Vice-President Mike Pence reiterated Donald Trump’s threats on China in the vice-presidential debate with Democratic challenger Kamala Harris on Wednesday night.
Pence said US President Donald Trump would continue to stand strong against China, which “has been taking advantage of America for decades”.
“We want to improve the relationship. But we’re going to level the playing field and we’re going to hold China accountable for what they did to America with the coronavirus,” said Pence during the 90-minute debate.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 7.5 million people in the US and killed over 210,000 people. The world’s biggest economy has suffered and had an unemployment rate of 7.9 per cent in September.
The vice-president also blamed China and the World Health Organization for not disclosing information about the novel coronavirus which was first reported late last year in Wuhan, a city in central China.
“China and the World Health Organization did not play straight with the American people. They did not let our personnel into China to get information on the coronavirus until the middle of February,” he said.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris said the Trump administration’s perspective and approach to China had resulted in the loss of American lives, American jobs and America’s standing.
“Leaders of all of our formerly allied countries have now decided that they hold in greater esteem and respect Xi Jinping, the head of the Chinese Communist Party, than they do Donald Trump,” she said, referring to a survey by the Pew Research Centre.
“This is where we are today because of a failure of leadership by this administration,” she added.
According to the survey, Trump is the least trusted among six world leaders, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Harris also criticised Trump for failing America in the trade war with China, which she said took the US into a manufacturing recession.
“The American consumer paid thousands of dollars more for goods because of that failed ‘war’ that they called it,” she said.
In China, censors cut off the live broadcast of the debate as carried by foreign networks such as CNN as criticisms about China came up.
The sound of the live stream was cut out and the words “no signal” appeared after Pence said “China is to blame for the coronavirus” in response to a question from the moderator Susan Page about the US relationship with China.
The broadcast resumed when the topic of debate changed.
More from South China Morning Post:
- US vice-presidential debate: Harris and Pence clash over Trump’s coronavirus record
- Donald Trump vows to ‘make China pay’ for coronavirus pandemic
- Why the Pence-Harris VP debate has unprecedented significance
- President Pelosi? Mike Pence prepares to risk it all for Donald Trump