Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday will address the state of U.S.-China relations and make his first comments on the origins of the coronavirus since leaving office and his role as chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Representatives billed his afternoon speech at The Heritage Foundation in Washington as his third major address on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific, following a 2018 address on China at the Hudson Institute and a similar address at the Wilson Center a year later.
A trade war between the U.S. and China dominated the relationship under the Trump administration before a “phase one” deal was struck in January 2020.
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, upended relations. Then-President Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his response early on but quickly soured on the leader and used derogatory names for the virus that pointed to its Chinese origins.
Mr. Pence, who led the COVID-19 team tracking cases and forging policy preventions, plans to address the state of U.S.-China relations under President Biden as Beijing attempts to defend its oppression of Mulsim Uyghurs in the West, cracks down in Hong Kong and saber-rattles in the South China Sea, threatening Taiwan.
He also will discuss the origins of the coronavirus as intelligence officials probe whether the pathogen escaped from a Wuhan lab that researched coronaviruses derived from bat caves in China.
Mr. Pence has given a number of speeches to GOP chapters in key primary states, including South Carolina and New Hampshire, as he plots his political future.
He served the former president loyally for four years but was turned into a MAGA-world target after he resisted Mr. Trump’s calls to send 2020 electoral votes back to the states when Congress convened on Jan. 6.
Rioters breached the U.S. Capitol during the certification process, forcing agents to whisk Mr. Pence away as attackers targeted him with threats.