Top officials in the Biden administration
The Top officials of the Biden administration have largely kept their promises to compete vigorously with China. Building on the Trump administration’s China policy, they have Beijing because of his horrific human rights abuses put under pressure, the US support to Taiwan strengthened using the framework of the previous administration and the quad the Pacific democracies expanded.
In addition, the Biden team’s focus on multilateral action has shown initial results: This week they announced sanctions against Chinese officials coordinated with the UK, the EU and Canada to convince CCP officials for their role in the Uyghur genocide punish.
But this excitement was joined, puzzlingly, by the conscious effort to find space for meetings like that bitter US-China summit last week in Alaska and the decision of President Biden to invite the general secretary of the CCP to a global climate summit.
To hear Biden’s view of the CCP’s challenge, one has to listen to a meandering description of his recent phone call with General Secretary Xi Jinping, as he did yesterday. “I made it clear to him once again what I personally said to him on several occasions: that we are not looking for confrontation, even though we know that there will be steep, steep competition.”
Human rights violations
Nobody wants a military conflict, but if it’s one thing to denounce the human rights abuses of an authoritarian regime and international harassment, it’s confrontation. In other words, the policies and utterances of the President’s own administration lead to the situation being called for what it is rather than a glossed over version of the truth.
The problem is not that officials are reluctant to address the CCP’s transgressions. On a trip to Tokyo earlier this month, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken accused Beijing of “using coercion and aggression to systematically undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermining democracy in Taiwan, abusing human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and maritime claims in southern China Sea to assert “which constitutes a violation of international law.
As if that wasn’t enough, Blinken has accused the Party of genocide in Xinjiang, calling Taiwan a “country” (a notable use of the term for a senior US official) while the mainland harassed the world’s only Chinese democracy continues from the air. Both Blinken and Biden have defined this contest as a fundamental struggle between democracy and authoritarianism in the 21st century.
In response to China yesterday, but more generally, Biden said that “most of the scholars I have dealt with at Penn agree with me across the country – that this is a battle between the benefits of 21st century democracies.
Competition with China
In their view, competition with China is one of the most important aspects of this struggle between two systems. It’s a shocking prognosis – and yet their diplomacy has not done justice to the occasion they describe by seeking cooperation where it cannot exist and therefore downplaying the CCP’s threat to American interests.
Biden-Blinken’s trip to Brussels this week is a prime example of this contradiction. Biden-Blinken’s emphasis on working with US allies to counter the CCP has resulted in a little more coordination, as evidenced by this week’s sanction announcements.
But Biden-Blinken soon undermined this step with a speech at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday:
The United States will not force our allies into a “us or them” decision with China. There is no question that Beijing’s compulsive behavior threatens our collective security and prosperity, and that it is actively working to undermine the rules of the international system and the values that we and our allies share. But that doesn’t mean countries can’t work with China where they can, for example on challenges like climate change and health security.
Parts of the speech
His remarks were all the more self-destructive as other parts of the speech contained a compelling explanation of why the US and its allies must work together to confront Beijing. And if the claims of the Biden administration – about the CCP’s drive to eradicate democracy across the Taiwan Strait, the Uyghur genocide, and the competition between democracy and autocracy – are to be taken seriously, then effective competition with Beijing requires that America’s allies are avoiding the greatest threat to the values on which transatlantic relations are based. You have a choice.
And if the Anchorage Summit showed anything, it is that Chinese diplomats are more interested in auditioning for a global audience that they hope will belittle America’s ability to lead the world than they are seriously with To deal with climate change and infectious disease prevention. The meeting was only an opportunity for the top CCP officials to reach this desired audience.
Biden does not seem to have realized this yet, which is why he said yesterday that “I am not criticizing you for the goal” of “becoming the leading country in the world and the most powerful country in the world.”
He added, “This will not happen under my supervision.” But as long as Biden and his team do not use more pointed rhetoric and abandon the idea that their warnings about the CCP are reasonably accompanied by cooperation on climate change and other issues They will have difficulty defending global democracy from the very authoritarian threat they claim to recognize.
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