In Washington, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's Oct. 4 speech ripping China was largely lost amid the uproar over the midterms and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

In Beijing, however, Pence's address is still reverberating. Some in China's foreign policy community continue to study it, comparing the rhetoric with Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in 1946, and trying to determine whether it, too, marks the start of a Cold War between two world powers.

Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University in Beijing, was among those alarmed by how the vice president conflated trade grievances with spying allegations and long-standing security disputes such as Taiwan.