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A blunt warning to China is expected from the Trump administration on Thursday. US Vice President Mike Pence set to lash Beijing on several sensitive subjects according to a copy of his speech seen by Reuters. It's likely to escalate already soaring tension between the two nations on issues from trade to defense ties.
During an address in Washington he'll call recent Chinese action in the South China Sea reckless harassment and will vow to not stand down in the disputed waters that China claims as its own. A US navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China on Sunday, and Beijing retaliated by sending its own ship to sail dangerously close to the USS Decatur within 45 yards.
It had been part of what the US calls a counter-operation to Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the area. China later voiced anger of the encounter and called the operation a threat to its sovereignty. Pence is also set to bring up another sore spot, Taiwan. The speech has him saying Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all Chinese people.
That's likely to rattle Beijing which sees Taiwan as its own renegade province. On trade, Pence is also set to push the rhetoric further, accusing Chinese officials of trying to influence business leaders to condemn the Trump administration. The speech has him saying Beijing threatened to deny a business license for an American corporation if it refused to speak out against Trump's trade measures, although exactly which company he's referring to isn't disclosed.