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Trade war

US delays Pence's China speech, citing 'progress' in talks

Speech was expected to pound Beijing on human rights

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been highly critical of China's human rights record and trade policy.   © AP

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has postponed a planned speech widely expected to be critical of China to avoid derailing a pivotal meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at next week's Group of 20 summit in Osaka.

"The Vice President's office is postponing Monday's speech due to progress in conversations between President Trump and President Xi," the White House informed the Wilson Center, the think tank where the speech was scheduled to take place.

"He looks forward to delivering the inaugural Frederic V. Malek Public Service Leadership Lecture in the near future at the Wilson Center," the White House added.

The speech was expected to condemn China's human rights record -- an issue of particular sensitivity to Beijing amid mass protests in Hong Kong.

Pence delivered an address in October on U.S. policy toward China that included a laundry list of allegations, such as technology theft, oppression of minorities, and interference in American politics. Another speech with a similar tone would likely make it tougher for Xi and Trump to ease tensions.

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