China has slammed as "very ridiculous" US Vice-President Mike Pence's "unwarranted accusations" that it is meddling in the United States' internal affairs and elections.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement yesterday that he was "nothing but speaking on hearsay evidence, confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air".
"We urge the US to correct its wrongdoing, stop groundlessly accusing and slandering China and harming China's interests and China-US ties," Ms Hua said in response to Mr Pence's scathing attack in a speech at the Hudson Institute, a US think-tank, in Washington on Thursday.
"China always follows the principle of non-interference in others' internal affairs and we have no interest in meddling in US internal affairs and elections," she added.
Associate Professor Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said what the Chinese were accused of doing - trying to influence upcoming US midterm elections - was something countries like Israel and other American allies have been doing to influence political outcomes in the US to support their national interests. He said China is unlikely to stop such activities or those that help shape the American public's views of China.
Mr Pence, in his speech ahead of the Nov 6 polls to elect members of Congress, accused China of initiating "an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections".
ACCUSATIONS BY U.S. SLANDEROUS
The relevant speech made unwarranted accusations against China's domestic and foreign policies and slandered China by claiming that China meddles in US internal affairs and elections. This is nothing but speaking on hearsay evidence, confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air… It is very ridiculous for the US side to stigmatise its normal exchanges and cooperation with China as China interfering in its internal affairs and elections."
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN HUA CHUNYING.
CHINA MEDDLING IN AMERICA'S DEMOCRACY
To put it bluntly, President Trump's leadership is working. China wants a different American President… China is meddling in America's democracy… Our intelligence community says that China is targeting US state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy. It's using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing's political influence."
US VICE-PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE, in a speech at the conservative Hudson Institute.
He also criticised China's "aggression" in the South China Sea, its "debt diplomacy", theft of US technology, crackdown on religious practice at home and its squeezing of Taiwan's international space, among other things.
His remarks came amid rising trade tensions between the world's two largest economies which are set to deepen and as their rivalry in the East Asian region intensifies.
The ministry, in a second statement yesterday evening, urged the US to work with China to oppose and contain "Taiwan independence".
Responding to the accusation that China had militarised the artificial islands it had built in the South China Sea, it said its construction of "necessary land defence facilities in its own territory" was within international law.
It added that Chinese of all nationalities "enjoy full freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law".
On Sunday, a Chinese navy ship came close to and almost collided with a US destroyer that was conducting a freedom of navigation operation close to the China-claimed Gaven Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the Chinese secretly inserted surveillance microchips into servers used by major technology firms including Apple and Amazon. The servers' motherboards were assembled in China.
The Foreign Ministry said in response that China is a "resolute defender" of cyber security and that it hopes parties would "make less gratuitous accusations and suspicions but conduct more constructive talk and collaboration so that we can work together in building a peaceful, safe, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace".
The Communist Party-linked Global Times, in an editorial, urged China to hold firm to its position and view with objectivity the US' strategy and not be led by the nose by its politicians. Even while sparring with the US over trade, it should also have the forbearance to cooperate with Washington, it said.
But China is unlikely to succumb to US demands on core issues such as Taiwan, the South China Sea and its longer term industrial technological development plan, said Prof Li.