Former Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. and its allies must do more to confront Beijing‘s growing authoritarianism on the international stage, warning that “appeasement has never worked a single time in human history, and it will not work now.”
“Appeasing China will only embolden other international bullies, like Russia,” Mr. Pence said over the weekend, calling on the free world to seize on the upcoming Olympics in Beijing as to speak out about the Chinese communist government’s human rights abuses and religious persecutions.
“Freedom-loving nations must speak truth to power in Beijing,” the former vice president said in prepared remarks to a virtual rally. “China will no doubt use the backdrop of the international games to put up its best front — but a few weeks of good behavior cannot mask the regime’s true authoritarian nature.”
Mr. Pence made the remarks at an interfaith prayer rally sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and The Washington Times Foundation with the goal of promoting peace efforts on the divided Korean peninsula.
The Biden administration has said it will stage a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, a move being joined by Canada, the U.K. and Australia, all of whom will allow athletes to compete, but won’t send official government delegations to the February Games.
Mr. Pence suggested the U.S. and its allies be vigilant about the prospect of Chinese geopolitical aggression following the Games. “We know that once the Olympic Games are over, China will resume its malevolent behavior against Hong Kong, Taiwan, and any country it deems an obstacle to its goals,” he said.
The “One Million Prayers for Peace” rally was hosted by UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, the widow of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and leader of the Unification movement that grew from the Unification Church. Rev. Moon, an ardent anti-communist, founded the church in 1954 — a year after the war between North and South Korea was frozen by a U.S.-backed armistice.
Mrs. Moon and her late husband devoted their lives to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula and to the promotion of world peace. They founded The Washington Times in 1982.
This weekend’s virtual event was attended by the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, along with a multi-faith range of other religious leaders, including the Prophet Samuel Radebe, founder of the Revelation Church of God, and the Hindu spiritual leader H.H. Swami Hari Chaitanya Puri Ji Maharaj Ji, among others.
Mr. Pence, a devout Christian, emphasized the threat posed to religious freedom by authoritarian governments such as those in China and North Korea.
“I know I speak on behalf of millions of Americans when I say how proud we are to stand … in defense of religious liberty,” the former vice president said in his prepared remarks. “We believe that every human being must have the freedom to live, to work, and to worship according to their own conscience.”
“With one voice, we condemn the repression Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious minorities taking place at this very hour in China and North Korea,” he said. “We pray for an end to the persecution, and we call on world leaders to work together to bring justice for all who are, at this very hour, being persecuted for their faith.”
He asserted that under the former Trump administration, the “alliance between America and freedom-loving nations across the Asia-Pacific [region] grew stronger than ever before.”
With regard to North Korea, Mr. Pence said the former administration “proved that peace follows strength,” a reference to historic summits between former President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that followed Mr. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Pyongyang.
Mr. Pence noted “nuclear testing in North Korea stopped” in the wake of the 2018 Singapore summit between the two.
“But weakness arouses evil,” the former vice president said. “With North Korea once again working to expand its nuclear capabilities, I fervently hope that the Biden administration displays the American strength the world needs across the region, even while continuing to build on our progress toward peace.”
More broadly, Mr. Pence warned that “freedom-loving nations of the world cannot allow China and Russia to trample the liberty of our friends and allies – we must pray and ensure that our leaders send an unambiguous message that such aggression will not be tolerated.”
“China continues to demand that the world look the other way on human rights, trade abuses, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and aggressive military maneuvers in the South China Sea,” he said. “The free nations of the world must call upon China to respect religious liberty, democratic principles, freedom of navigation, and to do their part to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
Mr. Pence highlighted the case of Jimmy Lai, the 73-year-old Hong Kong entrepreneur, activist and pro-democracy newspaper publisher currently jailed as part of Beijing’s increasing crackdown on what had prior to recent years been a flourishing democracy in the semi-autonomous city-state.
Mr. Pence called on “America and her allies” to “pray for and stand with the people of Hong Kong,” and be clear that “we will stand with the people” of Taiwan and will continue to support the island democracy “in maintaining sufficient self-defense capability.”
“The free world cannot stand idle in the face of China’s aggressive military maneuvers or Taiwan could soon face the same fate as Hong Kong,” he said, adding that “as the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated, we know that the authoritarian predisposition for secrecy, deception and control can inflict immeasurable harm on humanity.”
New evidence “strongly suggests the coronavirus leaked out of a Chinese lab,” Mr. Pence said. “After more than 5 million deaths worldwide, China must be held accountable for its actions.”