China Pressures ‘Inactive’ Biden to Overturn More Trump Policies

joe biden signs
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

China’s state-run Global Times complained Tuesday that “newly-installed U.S. President Joe Biden has made no effort to reverse those mutually destructive policies, dimming the prospect of even a certain degree of de-escalation in China-U.S. ties which are at their lowest point in decades.”

The Global Times fulminated that Biden has only refrained from “ratcheting up” Trump’s policies against Communist Party-controlled firms, but his “inaction” left the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) removed from the New York Stock Exchange on Monday after twenty years of trading, in accordance with an executive order former President Donald Trump issued in November.

Of course, the Global Times failed to tell its readers why CNOOC and several other Chinese companies were de-listed under the Trump executive order, and why the Biden administration took no action to stop it: because they are directly linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

CNOOC unconvincingly claims this is just a “misunderstanding” of how the business operates, but while U.S. officials have not divulged all of the details about their suspicions of the corporation, Nikkei Asian Review noted Monday the “company and its unlisted parent have been at the center of territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea between Beijing and its neighbors regarding sovereign control over drilling rights.” 

The U.S. Commerce Department accused CNOOC of acting like a “bully” toward rival South China Sea claimants Vietnam and the Philippines in January. The Chinese government retorted that delisting the company was itself an act of “bullying” by the United States and accused President Trump of randomly singling CNOOC out for rough treatment, but evidently the actual reasons were good enough to keep the Biden team from overturning Trump’s order.

The Global Times quoted some Chinese analysts who accused Biden of being somehow caught in the inescapable undertow of Trump’s big push to “decouple” from China after the coronavirus pandemic, his administration helpless to change course “despite widespread opposition” to Trump’s agenda. Others more optimistically suggested Biden just needs some time to change course and rediscover the joys of “healthy competition and cooperation” with China.

The Chinese Communist paper rejected the notion that Beijing bears any responsibility whatsoever for the deterioration of the U.S.-China relationship, and anticipated Biden would begin making restitution to the Chinese for their unfair treatment by Trump, once he is no longer “consumed by domestic affairs.”

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