Tightening relations with China may be one of the rare issues in which the policies of the new Democratic president, Joe Biden, are no different from his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.
There were quick signals and various steps during the first week of the Biden administration, pushing toward hard-line policies that appear on the horizon of Washington’s expected relations with Beijing.
During his confirmation session in the Senate, the new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, acknowledged that China poses the greatest challenge to the United States, and pledged to take a “tougher approach to China.”
“Let me just say that I also believe President Trump was right to take a firm stand towards China,” Blinken said, then said in his first press conference that “the Biden administration agrees with the Trump administration’s assessment that Beijing is committing genocide against Uighur Muslims in the country.” China”.
During his confirmation session in the Senate, the new Defense Minister, General Lloyd Austin, described China as a “growing danger, and that confronting it would be one of the most prominent trends of the Pentagon’s activities” in the Biden era.
As for National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, he pointed out – in an interview with the Peace Institute in Washington on Friday – that “the Chinese believe that their model is more successful than the American model, and this is what they are promoting around the world.”
Josh Kurlantzick, an expert on US-China relations at the Council on Foreign Relations, agreed that the Biden administration is moving toward adopting tough policies towards China.
In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, Kurlantzic indicated that, “Despite the unprecedented high degree of polarization in the American political system now, there is a fair amount of consensus on the need to confront China’s policies between Democrats and Republicans, and I think that there may be some The differences are relatively small between the two, but not as large as some might think. “
Kurlantzick believes that trade policy will be the subject of differences between the two sides, and Biden may try to communicate more with China on some critical issues such as climate change, but he is likely to maintain a rather strong approach to Beijing like Trump on technology and trade issues. Security, etc., “I think there might be a general tone that is a little less hostile, but a lot of the policy itself will actually be the same.”
Bad timing to start confronting China
President Biden came to power amid the exposure of his country and the world to the Corona virus pandemic, in which deaths due to the virus reached more than 400,000 Americans, as well as the infection of 23 million others on the day he assumed power on January 20.
As a result of the pandemic, the US and global economies suffered an unprecedented recession and contraction. The poor American performance in facing the repercussions of the Corona virus has shaken global confidence in the ability of the United States to lead the international system, at a time when China tried to exploit the repercussions of the spread of the Corona virus to establish its international position, especially in directing American influence around the world.
Eight days before the end of former President Donald Trump’s rule, the National Security Council of the White House declassified an intelligence document detailing comprehensive strategic directives toward China.
The document – which Al-Jazeera Net reviewed – came in 10 pages, and explained the challenges that the United States faces from the rising and resolute power of China, and called for developing plans that serve Washington’s interests in the regions neighboring China, by mobilizing regional allies and helping them achieve their common interests with Washington in facing Beijing aspirations.
The document states that the United States must maintain “diplomatic, military and economic superiority” in the region, while “preventing China from establishing new areas of influence that are not liberal.”
A number of commentators considered that the Trump administration, through its public release of the document, was trying to link the new Biden administration with its policies towards hostility to China.
New Cold War
In a symposium organized by the Atlantic Council in Washington on geopolitical relations between China and the United States, Dan Yrigin, Vice President of IHS Strategic Consulting, said that the two largest economies in the world collide on ideological grounds and sharp military and technological competition.
Brigin believes that the two countries are about to “a new cold war, but it is not like the Soviet-American cold war, because the economies of the two countries are linked in a very complex way. We are not dealing with a closed country like the Soviet Union that can be contained by closing the door on it.”
The dangers of the two powers clashing into the world are compounded by their huge economic interdependence and the influence of the rest of the world. The US Census Bureau data indicates that the volume of trade between the two countries will reach nearly $ 560 billion in 2020, despite the hardening of China and Trump’s adoption of a trade war policy against it. China exported $ 433 billion worth of products to the United States, while the value of America’s exports amounted to $ 125 billion.
Biden agrees with Trump that China should be held accountable for its role in the spread of the Corona virus, but unlike Trump, Biden believes in the need to strengthen a multilateral alliance of like-minded allies, to confront what he considers Chinese threats and unfair practices.
In his working days, the new US Secretary of State continued with his counterparts in countries surrounding China, such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand, and Beijing’s threats were at the top of the issues discussed.
The United States wants to maintain its position as the largest military and economic power in the world, which leads some to pressure towards the adoption of zero equations in its relationship with China, which is in conflict economically and militarily.
From here, a number of commentators saw that the declassified document could be considered a “Cold War 2.0 blueprint,” where the confrontation between the two countries in the field of international trade and access to natural resources, to the struggle over the future of technology, to the geostrategic competition, especially in the South cannot be avoided. East Asia.