Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday denied that the U.S. is seeking to "decouple" from China, despite "the many challenges we face in the U.S.-China relationship."
"The United States does not seek confrontation with China," Pence said in a speech on the future of the two countries, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks. "We are not seeking to contain China's development."
Yet Pence added a hawkish caveat.
"But so far it appears the Chinese Communist Party continues to resist a true opening or convergence with global norms," the vice president said, adding that China's actions demonstrate "that it's the Chinese Communist Party that has been decoupling from the wider world for decades."
Pence's remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington came as the two economic superpowers appeared to be making progress in a protracted effort to forge an overhauled trade agreement.
The Trump administration is in negotiations with Beijing that would address issues include trade deficits, intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers. President Donald Trump "is ready and willing to begin that new future," Pence assured, if China commits to "ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long."
Pence added: "People sometimes ask whether the Trump Administration seeks to 'decouple' from China. The answer is a resounding, 'No.'"
"The United States seeks engagement with China and China's engagement with the wider world in a manner consistent with fairness, mutual respect, and the international rules of commerce," he said.