Hayward: China Joe Biden Avoids Any Offense to Beijing in State of the Union

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President Joe Biden’s State of the Union (SOTU) speech included a brief mention of China, but the language was carefully trimmed to avoid saying anything that might offend Beijing, beyond the most cursory mention of Taiwan.

The China segment of SOTU mostly consisted of Biden bragging that his economy is strong, contrary to the opinions of most Americans, while China no longer poses much of a challenge.

“For years, all I’ve heard from my Republican friends and so many others is, China’s on the rise and America is falling behind. They’ve got it backward. America is rising. We have the best economy in the world,” Biden said.

“Since I’ve come to office, our GDP is up. And our trade deficit with China is down to the lowest point in over a decade. We’re standing up against China’s unfair economic practices,” he said.

US President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 7, 2024. Election-year politics will increase the focus on Bidens remarks and lawmakers reactions, as hes stumping to the nation just months before voters will decide control of the House, Senate, and White House. Photographer: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2024. (Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In truth, India has the fastest-growing Gross Domestic Product of any major industrialized nation at the moment. China’s economy is in trouble – probably much more trouble than its leadership is willing to admit – but that trouble has nothing to do with Joe Biden or his policies.

China’s recovery from its heavy-handed pandemic lockdowns was much slower than the leadership expected, hindered by some ill-advised fiscal policies, and foreign capital turned out to be more serious about “de-risking” by moving investments out of China after the pandemic than Beijing anticipated. The Chinese real-estate market remains a sizzling debt bomb that makes international investors nervous about putting big money into any aspect of the Chinese economy.

Still, the Chinese economy grew at a reported 5.2 percent in 2023 – granted that Beijing’s official figures should always be taken with some skepticism – and roughly comparable growth is expected for 2024. Overall GDP growth for the United States in 2023 was much lower at only 2.5 percent. The pace picked up in the third and fourth quarters, but still lagged considerably behind China’s growth, contrary to Biden’s boasts.

The U.S. trade deficit with China remains enormous, although it did get lower in 2023 compared to a near-record high of $951 billion in 2022. Biden conveniently forgot to mention that the trade deficit soared again in January 2024.

Even CNN felt compelled to call foul on Biden’s trade deficit boast, noting that only one thing Joe Biden has done had any effect on that deficit: he blew American inflation through the roof, leaving U.S. consumers with less money to spend on imported goods as they struggled to feed their families:

The reason for the narrowing trade gap isn’t because of any Biden administration policy. Inflation has driven American consumers away from discretionary purchases, such as electronics – stuff that is primarily made in China. Instead, they’re buying more non-discretionary items, such as groceries. 

On top of that, the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods, which Biden’s administration left in place, have made Chinese goods less popular for Americans, because of the added cost. That’s why, for the first time in two decades, the United States imported more goods from a country other than China: Mexico exported more goods to the US than any other country last year.  

Even Biden’s apologists admit he has mostly kept former President Donald Trump’s policies on China trade in place, confounding early expectations that Biden would reverse most of them. The biggest difference is that all U.S. media complaints about China tariffs hurting American consumers abruptly ceased on the day Biden was inaugurated.

Biden’s defenders also credit him with doing more to build international alliances against rising Chinese power – something Biden himself only mentioned briefly in the SOTU, since his thesis was that China is no longer rising relative to the United States. The 2021 AUKUS security partnership uniting the U.S., UK, and Australia became the most significant of these diplomatic achievements after a bit of a rocky start; it is certainly the agreement China complains the most loudly about.

Biden said his administration is “standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” which would probably be the most irksome line in the speech for Beijing, although neither Biden’s words nor policies on Taiwan are much different from his last few predecessors.

Biden said in January, after Taiwan’s most recent elections, that his administration does not support “independence” for Taiwan – a significant climbdown from his previous assertions that the U.S. would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, but largely consistent with America’s “strategic ambiguity” posture since 1979.

“I’ve made sure that the most advanced American technologies can’t be used in China’s weapons. Frankly, for all his tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do that,” Biden bragged, one of several swipes he took at likely 2024 opponent Donald Trump during SOTU.

Biden signed an executive order in August 2023 to restrict U.S. high-technology investments from going to China. The administration said the narrowly tailored order was intended to keep the most advanced chips and information technologies out of China’s hands for national security reasons. The order affected only a very small subset of the most advanced technologies.

The Trump administration actually did block some technology transfers to China and talked about imposing tougher restrictions, but faced considerable resistance from U.S. technology giants. Among other objections, the companies said heavy export restrictions would undercut America’s status as the world’s leading hub for research and development. They also feared losing access to Chinese markets could have a devastating effect on their income.

“We want competition with China, but not conflict. And we’re in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st Century against China, or anyone else, for that matter,” Biden said to conclude the China segment of his SOTU address.

This is a prediction for the future, and only time can weigh its accuracy, but China still has some formidable advantages: even with its difficulties, it remains the world’s manufacturing hub; it can act without paying the heavy burden of activist groups as American government projects and private industry must do; and while its labor is getting more expensive, it is still vastly cheaper than American labor, in large part thanks to slavery.

China has a stranglehold on the green energy and electric vehicle technologies America’s political class is forcing its citizens to purchase. The Chinese believe their authoritarian speech controls protect them from the kind of political meddling they practice against America and other countries.

There is also the matter of how much influence China has purchased with the American political and media class, including the Biden family.

As Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer details in his new book Blood Money: Why the Powerful Turn a Blind Eye While China Kills Americans, the Bidens have several suspicious “financial entanglements” with China that probably limit the steps President Biden is willing to take against America’s primary geopolitical adversary.

Schweizer’s book also details how Beijing finances the kind of destructive political activism in America that would never be tolerated in China, creating major competitive disadvantages for American industry. China’s fentanyl trade has laid a terrible curse upon an entire American generation, and Biden’s open borders have only made that devastating project easier.

America’s strength should never be underestimated – but the most worrisome thought is that China has not underestimated them. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party has struck with devastating precision at cultural and economic weak points, one of which is the bloated political class so perfectly represented by President Joe Biden.


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