One Year Later: Joe Biden’s Missing China Strategy

Biden Xi
LINTAO ZHANG/AFP via Getty Images, File

President Joe Biden still has not outlined a China strategy after his first year in office, ignoring some of the major economic and national security issues that the communist government poses to the United States.

“We’re starting from an approach of patience as it relates to our relationship with China,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said after Biden’s inauguration in January 2021 when asked about the president’s China policy.

“We are not in a rush,” she explained a month later when asked the question about China again. “We are focused on communicating and working with our partners and allies around the world.”

But Biden appears to have employed a maximum patience strategy with China, despite its failure to meet its commitments from the phase one deal made with former President Donald Trump.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017 (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images).

Biden administration officials anonymously expressed frustrations that China failed to meet its commitments to purchase $200 billion in goods and services from the United States as part of the phase one part of the deal.

“Because we inherited this deal, we engaged the (People’s Republic of China) on its purchase commitment shortfalls, both to fight for U.S. farmers, ranchers and manufacturers and give China the opportunity to follow through on its commitments,” a Biden administration official told Reuters in February. “But our patience is wearing thin.”

Biden’s United States Trade Representative, Sarah Bianchi, said the United States was “trying” to address China’s failure to meet its commitments but did not demonstrate any significant progress.

“You know, it is really clear that the Chinese haven’t met their commitment in Phase 1. That’s something we’re trying to address,” Bianchi told a Washington International Trade Association forum.

The president has avoided aggressive rhetoric against China, repeating he wants a relation of “competition not conflict.”

“China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation,” Biden said in November during a video conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Most of Biden’s rhetoric toward China borders on envy, as he cites the economic leaps China’s leaders have made in manufacturing for wind and solar energy production, government investments in research and development, and infrastructure growth.

So far, Biden’s presidency has been good for China.

The trade deficit with China jumped 14.5 percent to $355.3 billion in 2021.

The president likes to point out that he and Xi have a close relationship he developed when he was vice president, frequently boasting he has met with Xi “more than any other world leader.”

US Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast during a State Luncheon for China hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry on September 25, 2015 at the Department of State in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Biden and his family also have a history of benefiting financially from cozy ties with the Chinese, as outlined by Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer in his book Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win: five deals in China with a value of approximately $31 million arranged by individuals with direct ties to Chinese intelligence.

Schweizer

Biden began his presidency with soft rhetoric about China, demonstrated during a CNN town hall in February.

When asked about human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China, he said that Xi “gets it.”

“[C]ulturally there are different norms in each country, and their leaders are expected to follow,” he said.

Biden explained that Xi’s policies were in pursuit of a united China.

“It’s vastly overstated, but the center of principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that,” he said.

After he was criticized, Biden’s rhetoric regarding human rights in China became tougher, but his policies toward China have not.

Biden took a few small actions in 2021 to protest China’s aggression in the region.

In June he added to a list of Chinese companies prohibiting American investments. Biden also expanded a list of Chinese officials under sanctions in 2021 in response to China’s cracking down on democracy in Hong Kong.

Biden has also left in place the Trump-era tariffs on goods imported from China, despite lobbying from business groups to lift them. Lifting the tariffs on China would be political suicide in an election year, as they are politically popular among his union and working class supporters.

But overall, the president does not appear willing to make any major changes concerning China.

Schweizer explained in a recent interview that the Chinese are fine with Biden’s rhetoric, as long as China has access to American markets.

“If Joe Biden is making statements about the Uyghurs occasionally, they’re fine with that. What he’s doing is giving them what they want, which is basically unfettered access to our capital markets and unfettered access to our technology.

Republicans continue criticizing Biden for his failures on China, accusing him broadly of failing on issues of foreign policy.

“Biden blunders from one crisis to the next – Hamas, Iran, China, the border, Afghanistan, Ukraine – all while refusing to take any responsibility,” Republican National Committee Rapid Response Director Tommy Pigott said in a statement.” Joe Biden described himself as an ‘expert’ in foreign policy. Instead, he’s proven himself an arrogant, incompetent, failed politician.”

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