Mike Pence has claimed that Russian interference in US elections “pales in comparison” with Chinese meddling, which he said was aimed at ousting Donald Trump. The vice-president’s allegation echoes a similar claim made by the president at the UN last week, but it has been contradicted by cybersecurity experts and the administration has yet to provide any supporting evidence, other than to point to instances of overt lobbying. The administration’s own secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, said: “We currently have no indication that a foreign adversary intends to disrupt our election infrastructure. “We know they [the Chinese] have the capability and we know they have the will. So we’re constantly on alert to watch. But what we see with China right now are the influence campaigns, the more traditional, longstanding, holistic influence campaigns,” Nielsen said on Tuesday at a Washington Post cybersecurity conference.
In his remarks on Thursday, Pence alleged a far more focused Chinese assault on US democracy.
“China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential election,” Pence said at the Hudson Institute, a Washington thinktank. “To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working, and China wants a different American president. China is meddling in America’s democracy.