In one of his final public appearances before leaving the White House next week, Vice President Mike Pence urged the Biden administration to exercise "eternal vigilance," especially when it comes to U.S.-China relations.
"As a new American administration prepares to take office, we do well to remember as Americans that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance," Pence told sailors from Naval Air Station Lemoore Saturday. "And a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to our prosperity, our security and the vitality of freedom in the world."
Pence’s comments come just days after the Trump administration declassified the U.S. strategy for tackling the growing threat between China and nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
The strategy aims to bolster militaries in India, Japan, South Korea and Australia to help the U.S. counter China’s increasing dominance, reported Air Force Magazine earlier this week.
In addition to the documents released, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said that China is "increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a 'common destiny' envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party."
O’Brien said that the goal in pushing back against China is to help allied nations in the region, "who share the values and aspirations of a free and open Indo-Pacific."
Pence said Saturday, that China is "determined" to spread its dominance in the region through "military provicasions and debt diplomacy."
U.S.-China relations have deteriorated vastly under the Trump administration over the last year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, China’s efforts to curtail Hong Kong's autonomy and the U.S.-China Trade War.
Friday marked the anniversary of the historic Trade Deal that the U.S. and China signed Jan. 15, 2020. It sought to lower U.S. tariffs in exchange for China’s promise to buy at least $200 billion of U.S. goods.
Biden has vowed to restore U.S. relations with the international community that he believes were hindered under Trump’s "America first" approach.
He plans to return to the Paris Climate Agreement, reverse Iranian sanctions, strengthen U.S.-NATO ties, and reverse the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization.
But how Biden plans to handle China likely will not differ that much from Trump’s.
Biden is expected to focus on tackling the coronavirus in the U.S., strengthening the economy and advancing U.S. climate initatives, while reversing international policies he can more easily espouse.
While it is unclear whether the Department of Defense will see decreases in military spending under the new administration, it is unlikely they see continual increases routinely exercised under Trump.
"I urge incoming administration to stay the course and do what we’ve done, stand up to Chinese aggression and trade abuses," Pence said concluding one of his last speeches as vice president. "Stand strong for a free and open Indo-Pacific and put America and our freedom-loving allies first."