Former Vice President Mike Pence warned Wednesday that the Biden administration is showing “weakness” to China’s leaders by failing to hold Beijing accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Weakness arouses evil. China senses weakness in the new administration,” Mr. Pence said at the Heritage Foundation, in his first remarks on China since leaving office.
Mr. Pence, who led the White House Coronavirus Task Force during the Trump administration, cited what he described as the Biden administration’s reluctance to identify the origin of the virus and its decision to rejoin the World Health Organization as policies enabling Beijing rather than holding the government accountable.
He said the policies mark a reversal of Trump-era steps to counter Chinese influence, despite growing recognition of Chinese aggression toward the U.S.
“Americans of every political persuasion recognize that the Chinese regime harbors adversarial intentions towards the United States and our allies,” Mr. Pence said. “Yet, despite this new national consensus, the Biden-Harris administration is already rolling over for Communist China.”
The lecture on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific marked the former vice president’s latest of a series of public appearances in which he has sought to put his imprint on the national conversation and the GOP’s message heading into the 2022 midterm elections.
The appearance signaled a continuation of remarks touting the accomplishments of the Trump administration, and criticizing the Biden administration’s domestic and foreign policy.
Mr. Pence‘s next stop brings him back to Iowa for the first time since the presidential election. He is set on Friday to headline Rep. Randy Feenstra’s inaugural family picnic in Sioux City, before addressing the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines that night.
The former vice president also has pushed back against the charge from Trump supporters that he could have unilaterally stopped the 2020 Electoral College votes from being counted on Jan. 6. The counting was interrupted by a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“There are those in our party who believe that in my position as presiding officer over the joint session that I possessed the authority to reject or return the electoral votes certified by the states,” Mr. Pence said last month at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. “But the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority before a joint session of Congress.”
“And the truth is, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person can choose the American president,” Mr. Pence said.
Mr. Pence has fallen out of favor with some of Mr. Trump’s most fervent supporters — many of whom believe the former president’s “stolen election” claims and say they hope he picks a different running mate if he runs again in 2024.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, meanwhile, has been among those to defend Mr. Pence, saying he “did the right thing ethically and legally.”
“He was one of the most faithful and loyal vice presidents in history,” Mr. Turley said in a recent email to The Washington Times. “Those who call him a ‘traitor’ have severed any ties to both reality and decency.”
In April, Mr. Pence announced the launch of the nonprofit political advocacy group “Advancing American Freedom,” aimed at driving the conservative movement by promoting recent policies, including those introduced under the Trump administration, that strengthen the nation’s stance abroad “while elevating traditional American values.”
As a distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Pence is slated to deliver a series of domestic and foreign policy speeches over the course of the next year.
• Seth McLaughlin contributed to this story.