China’s state-run Global Times newspaper applauded President Joe Biden on Wednesday for allegedly having “more scruples than the Trump administration” and adopting a “chill” foreign policy, hours before Biden used his first address to Congress to boast of his close relationship with dictator Xi Jinping.
The Global Times nonetheless attempted to argue that Biden had not significantly drifted away from the status quo under predecessor Donald Trump, claiming Chinese popular sentiment towards Biden ranged from “extremely disappointed” to “barely satisfactory.”
Biden largely disregarded foreign policy during his address on Wednesday, the first of its kind since his inauguration in January. To the extent that he discussed China, he claimed extreme domestic spending policies were meant partially to engage China in “competition” that would be impossible without large-scale government involvement.
The Global Times published its assessment of Biden’s “predictable, yet more chill” policy towards China on the occasion of his 100th day in office, prior to his remarks to Congress. While describing American public enthusiasm towards Biden as mediocre at best, the state publication claimed Chinese citizens expected a far friendlier U.S. policy towards the Communist Party under Biden but that this had yet to materialize.
“Chinese people care more about how Biden implemented his China policy in these 100 days. Some have the reason to feel greatly disappointed about him while others think he is barely satisfactory,” the Global Times claimed. “The Biden administration’s China strategic definition is apparently a continuation of the Trump administration’s perception of China.”
The Times went on to condemn Biden for not making any changes to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, for correctly recognizing the genocide of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province as a “genocide,” and for enhanced sanctions on Chinese businesses that threaten America’s national security. Yet it insisted that Biden was an improvement from Trump.
“In the past 100 days, strategic competition between the U.S. and China has not diminished. But Biden has changed Trump’s manic approach to Beijing,” the state mouthpiece assessed. “This has created a clearer logic and predictability on the U.S., and a regular chill has emerged in China-U.S. relations.”
Unlike Trump, the newspaper claimed Biden was not “impulsive and brutal,” but sought to “gradually suffocate China’s development and disrupt the rise of the country.”
“For Chinese people, we must adapt to the new normal of extremely unfriendly vibe between China and the US,” the outlet concluded. “We can no longer expect China and the U.S. to ‘mutually respect’ each other in politics. That era of mutual respect at least has been over in the short run.”
The Chinese Communist Party made clear its lack of respect in March during a tense meeting between two of its top diplomats, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and senior Politburo member Yang Jiechi, and two members of the Biden administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. While the Americans, meeting their Chinese counterparts in Alaska, emphasized rekindling diplomatic talks and “collaborative” encounters with China, Yang scolded his hosts for running a racist country, citing the Black Lives Matter movement and accusing the United States of centuries of human rights abuses. The meeting did not yield any agreements or substantive policy achievements for either side.
The Alaska summit did not make an appearance in Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Instead, Biden focused on claiming that he had a close personal relationship with Xi Jinping, commander of the world’s largest concentration camp system.
“I spent a lot of time with President Xi, traveled over 17,000 miles with him, spent over 24 hours in private discussions with him. When he called to congratulate me, we had a two-hour discussion,” Biden told Congress. “He’s deadly earnest about becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world. He and others, autocrats, think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies because it takes too long to get consensus.”
Biden added that he told Xi during that conversation that he was obligated to mention the human rights atrocities the Chinese Communist Party was responsible for because, as president of the United States, he has no choice.
“I pointed out to him, no responsible American President could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated. An American President — President has to represent the essence of what our country stands for,” Biden said.
Biden similarly said during a televised appearance in February that he raised the issue of human rights abuses in China with Xi because he had to, notably omitting any willingness on his part to do so outside of obligation.
“I point out to him no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States,” Biden said at the time. “So, the idea that I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uighurs in Western Mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the one-China policy by making it forceful [sic].”
“He gets it, culturally there are different norms in each country,” Biden added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Biden’s remarks Wednesday with condemnation of America as a whole.
“In recent years, the U.S. has repeatedly violated international rules, and violated the market principle of fair competition,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said in response to a request for a comment on Biden’s speech generally. “It has politicized and ideologized economic and scientific issues, abused state power to hamstring the development of China and other countries, and undermined the interests of many, provoking outrage from the international community.”
“China minds its own business of improving people’s well-being, while some in the U.S. habitually targets China in every utterance out of Cold War mentality, zero-sum mindset, and ideological bias, which reveals their lack of self-confidence,” Wang concluded. “Hopefully the U.S. will not let this sour grapes attitude get the better of itself, and look at China’s development in a more rational light. If it believes itself to be a major country, it should consider behaving like one.”