(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden is missing an opportunity to support anti-Communism protests in China, former Vice President Mike Pence said in an exclusive interview on NewsNation’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert.”
“I’m disappointed to see the (Biden) administration taking the stance that they’re taking,” he said. “Now more than ever, we ought to be speaking out for freedom, loving people around the world, we ought to be championing those that are championing their freedom, including in the People’s Republic of China.”
Angry protests have broken out across China and Hong Kong, calling for an end to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns and, in some cases, the Chinese Communist Party itself, in the wake of a deadly apartment block fire.
“You have to understand that the Chinese Communist Party runs the largest police state in the world. Their surveillance capacities are the stuff of Big Brother,” Pence said. “And so to see that many people taking to the streets is a real statement of political courage on their part, and they’re taking great risks for themselves or their families.”
The Biden administration has been noticeably quiet on the subject, perhaps in response to the tenuous relationship between the two superpowers. There has yet to be a statement or tweet from President Joe Biden, while a National Security Council spokesperson was mildly critical and focused on China’s “Zero COVID” policy.
Quoting a U.S. official familiar with the issue, Politico reported the Biden administration considered an array of factors in deciding how to respond, including how China could “could lead the Chinese government to turn the focus on the United States and allege ‘foreign interference’ rather than addressing the frustrations of the protesters.”
In a press conference Monday, NSC communications strategist John Kirby said the U.S. supports the right to peaceful protest.
But Pence said Biden’s response is reminiscent of the Obama administration’s reserved approach during mass protests in Iran, where the public spontaneously took to the streets demanding Democracy after a contested election.
Called “The Green Movement,” mass demonstrations and civil disobedience continued until February 14, 2010, reports Al Jazeera, when its attempt to stage a rally was brutally suppressed.
“Frankly, it took Joe Lieberman, John McCain, me and Howard Berman in the Congress to author a resolution, because President Obama refused to speak in favor of people clamoring for Democracy in Iran,” Pence said.
The situation is high stakes for both Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping, who met for their first face-to-face talks since the 2020 election in recent weeks. The largely symbolic meeting was hailed as positive, yet trade competition and ideological differences means the world’s two largest economies will likely remain wary of each other in the years to come.