By Tim Nerozzi
North Korea, on many issues, he is taking the lead across the Pacific in a way unusual for a vice president – sometimes dramatically.
During the tail end of last year, Pence threatened that the United States’ current tariffs would continue until China became more diplomatic in international negotiations. The vice-president even hinted at the United States’ capacity to increase tariffs if necessary.
His remarks came at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Meeting in Papa New Guinea.
“The United States will not change course until China changes its ways,” said Pence.
In an act of defiance, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has stated that China intends to back Myanmar on the Rohingya issue moving forward in a rebuke of Pence’s trade criticism.
“The Chinese side supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining its domestic stability, and supports Myanmar and Bangladesh appropriately resolving the Rakhine state issue via dialogue and consultation,” said Keqiang. The Chinese premier did not elaborate on the statement.
Even on China, the U.S. may be winning the trade war – at least in one key metric.
“It’s been surprising that China after declaring they would not take U.S. exports has quietly started dipping its toes back into U.S. markets,” said one Chinese oil trader who spoke to AMI Newswire on the condition of anonymity.
Pence also took a swing at Japan over what he claimed were unfair trade conditions between the two countries. Japan, unlike China and Myanmar, shares an intimate alliance with the United States, making this criticism from Pence all the more poignant.
“The United States has had a trade imbalance with Japan for too long. American products and services too often face barriers to compete fairly in Japanese markets,” Pence told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint press conference on his 2018 tour through Asia.
However, just like Trump, he has often taken a different tone behind closed doors. The United States has never had a free-trade agreement with Japan, and publicly Abe insists that the new agreement will stop short of that even as quiet discussions continue.
In September, Abe and Trump agreed to start trade negotiations after Japanese automakers worried about new tariffs. Those discussions build on talks Pence has led with his Japanese counterpart Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso the third round of those talks took place in November with the participation of Shinzo Abe, suggesting a deal maybe close.
However, were a new deal to be agreed to it would require the approval of U.S. Congress.
Pence’s rise hasn’t always been easy. As reported by Politico, Flake effectively had to end his long-term political alliance with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake in order to attain the vice presidency — and hasn’t looked back.
“Mike is intensely loyal. That’s a virtue. He has never uttered to me one syllable of disagreement with the president. And frankly, I admire him for that,” Flake said in a recent interview in which he showed no malice toward Pence’s move.
“We’ve taken different paths, but I’m not trying to suggest that mine is a more virtuous path than his. He’s in a position with considerably more power than I have, and there’s something to be said for that,” Pence also said in his interview.
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