VP Debate: Mike Pence, Kamala Harris Spar Over Trade, US-China Relations

Relations between the U.S.-China became a hot topic Wednesday in the debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City.

Trade relations and China have been considered hot economic topics. The Trump administration has engaged in a trade war with China, while placing tariffs on imports from rivals and allies.

Questions have surrounded how stark the differences are on trade between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

“Biden is not blindly pro-trade, but he doesn’t want to shrink from the world like President Trump has,” Ben Harris, a senior economic adviser on the Trump campaign, told the New York Times. “What the vice president proposes is a new approach to globalization, one in which we don’t get behind every trade deal on the grounds that more trade is always better.”

In the debate, Pence attacked Harris for opposing the USMCA trade agreement due to her objections to it over its impact on climate change.

He stated that China has “taken advantage of America for decades” and called Biden “a cheerleader for Communist China over the last several decades.” Later in the debate, Pence again used the phrase “cheerleading” in relation to Biden and China.

“China is to blame for the coronavirus,” said Pence, claiming that the administration took action against the country.

“Before there were more than five cases in the United States … [Trump] suspended all travel from China … Joe Biden opposed that decision,” Pence said.

Pence was fact-checked that “Trump did not ban all travel from China as the pandemic began,” as the Los Angeles Times noted in a tweet.

Pence, however, said the administration wants “to level the playing field” while improving the relationship with China.

Harris responded that the Trump administration’s China policy resulted “in a loss of American lives, American jobs and America’s standing.”

She noted that a team of disease experts in China to monitor pandemics was pulled by the Trump administration. Harris then noted the death toll has reached 210,000 in the U.S. 

In March, Reuters reported that “the Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Harris was bold on the Trump administration’s stance on the China trade war.

“You lost that trade war. You lost it,” Harris told Pence.

She also noted that the U.S. lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs and that American consumer has paid “thousands of dollars more for goods.”