Editor’s Note: This piece by Venus Upadhayaya features many long-form quotes from CSP Senior Fellow, Grant Newsham.
It took the Biden administration a whole year to articulate its China policy, and all this while the White House has continued with Trump’s policy and it claims to have bipartisan support for it. The policy has been in the news recently after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which prompted escalated military responses from the Chinese Communist Party.
The recent passage of the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, a legislation meant to help the United States compete with China that has drawn criticism from some Republicans for not achieving that purpose, has further opened the administration’s China approach to scrutiny.
The Epoch Times spoke with foreign policy analysts affiliated with institutions in different parts of the world including those from U.S.-allied countries and found a range of opinions on the administration’s China policy, with everyone agreeing only on one point: that Biden’s approach is a continuation of Trump’s policy.
The more concerned analysts said the policy needs to be expressed in action to gain relevance, pointing to case studies of the Chinese regime’s malign influence in their regions of expertise.
Biden’s China policy is defined in three words: “invest, align, compete,” as expressed in a long-awaited speech by Secretary of State Antony Blinken at George Washington University in Washington on May 26.
Investment, according to the secretary, referred to investing in foundations of strength here at home—“our competitiveness, our innovation, our democracy.” Aligning referred to aligning the administration’s efforts with the United States’ global network of allies and partners to oppose China’s increasing aggression.
“And harnessing these two key assets, we’ll compete with China to defend our interests and build our vision for the future,” said Blinken in a speech that was billed as the administration’s grand strategy towards the Chinese regime.
The speech was much awaited because it came after a year of silence during which time the Biden administration simply carried forward with the Trump administration’s China policy including the tariffs that Trump introduced to punish China for unfair trade practices, said Ian Johnson of a Council of Foreign Relations in an analysis published shortly after the speech.
“The Biden administration’s China policy is a continuation, at most levels of the Trump administration’s policy—the view within the U.S. strategic establishment that China is a peer competitor and rival and that the U.S. needs a strategy to prevent that from happening,” Aparna Pande, a research fellow at the Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute told The Epoch Times in an email.
Kurt Campbell, coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Affairs on the National Security Council, said early this year in an interview that Biden’s China policy has bipartisan support.
“Democrats and republicans have worked more effectively on China and the Indo-pacific than on any other foreign policy or national security issue,” he said.
A December 2021 public opinion survey by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs shows that Republicans generally take a stronger view of the threat posed by the Chinese regime: 42 percent of Republicans consider China an adversary compared to 17 percent of Democrats, while 67 percent of Republicans consider limiting China’s global influence as a very important goal for U.S. foreign policy compared to 39 percent of Democrats.
In the past four to five years, there’s been more awareness of the “China threat” to the United States among both Republicans and Democrats, according to Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies.
“Before that, you couldn’t even say China was an adversary,” Newsham told The Epoch Times in an email.
He said that elites who donate money to politicians have always called the “shots in Washington and they still do.” Campbell’s statement, Newsham said, is an attempt to create the impression that the U.S. administration and the ruling class in the country are now “serious” about confronting the Chinese regime.
“That’s an illusion, unfortunately,” Newsham said.
“Consider the former Congressmen and Senators and other [U.S. government] officials (both Republicans and Democrats) who have gone to work for Chinese companies and/or to lobby [the U.S. government],” he added.
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