This is the second of a three-part series from The Liberty Loft on the economic impact a Biden administration will likely have on Iran, China, and the United States of America.
Charlotte, NC — Just imagine if something like this happened during the Trump administration, and ask yourself what the media-Democrat complex would be saying.
In November 2011, an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members and billionaire cronies of the repressive regime in Beijing secured a meeting in the White House, said to be with Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration officials, through associates of Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
News of the meeting has been broken by Peter Schweizer and Seamus Bruner. Schweizer, who has spent years tracking Washington’s web of money, influence, and access, is the author most recently of “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,” which focuses on the Biden family — among other intriguing money trails on both sides of the political aisle.
But despite the clear and apparent issues the Biden family has with its egregious and despicable connections with the People’s Republic of China, Joe Biden has made “clear” his most “immediate” priorities are domestic. Despite the fact his transition website mentions rebuilding the Center for Disease Control’s Beijing office, China never lurks far behind all these issues, be it as a cause, competitor, or occasional cooperator.
The China question will elicit a paradox in Biden’s placated instincts. He prefers to work with China on big global problems, particularly climate change, a subject China has and never will take seriously, and the need to combat whatever pandemic emerges next. But particularly, if the potential new president presides over (bitterly) divided government, he’ll need competition with China as an organizing and unifying principle for domestic initiatives ranging from infrastructure to science and technology funding — even if that evokes uncomfortable echoes President Donald Trump’s approach to the communist nation.
Biden will also need to show the rest of the world that his administration, like Trump’s, takes seriously the threat of Beijing’s communist and human rights abuses coupled with its increasingly vindictive diplomacy.
Beijing won’t love Biden but probably thinks it understands him and more likely to manipulate him. Strategic thinkers, apparently there are some in the international community that believe that phrase applies to Biden, with access to the Xi administration are likely better calibrated for a possible Biden administration, even if they understand that rivalry across a number of domains will be an enduring feature.
President Trump has been quite aggressive with China. Throughout the course of Trump’s administration, he has hit China with blow after blow. According to CGTN’s Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, she describes Trump’s approach to diplomacy as a “‘scorched earth’ approach – taking disproportionately punitive measures in order to spite his enemies. By taking a sledgehammer to the U.S.-China relationship and imposing tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, Trump has completely transformed the global landscape and pitted China’s rise as a direct challenge to U.S. hegemony.”
Recently, Biden has said that he considers Beijing to be Washington’s biggest competitor. “I think the biggest competitor is China and the relations depend on how we deal with it will determine whether we are competitors or end up in a more serious competition of strength.”
Biden’s past and present legislative and policy record shows that he has been very flexible and contradictory in his votes and rhetoric, lacking solid ground on where he stands exactly on economic, societal, and security issues with China.
Biden has pledged to address many of the same trade and economic imbalances that the Trump administration targeted to protect U.S. firms, though this will occur in different ways. Most prominently, we will likely see Biden attempt to:
- Cut the import tariffs over time, presumably to use as leverage on other issue areas, and end the trade wars overall – but he’ll be doing this to help ease inflation and alleviate the burden on U.S. consumers as well as assist American producers using Chinese intermediate inputs, likely not for the sake of improving U.S.-China relations. Although he outright said at one point that he would remove the tariffs, an aide later walked it back a bit, saying that he would “re-evaluate” tariffs on Chinese-made goods upon entering office.
- Continue targeting many of the same Chinese trade practices and market distortions that the Trump Administration targeted. This would include state subsidies, production surpluses and dumping, currency manipulation, intellectual property, and forced technology transfers. However, less emphasis will be placed on the trade deficit, which could impact the direction of the Phase One Trade Deal that demanded higher Chinese imports of U.S. goods.
- Be less hostile to more people-to-people exchanges (academic, cultural, scientific, etc.) than Trump was. In Biden’s view, keeping these lines of communication open is in America’s best interest, as it would serve as a source of information on China. However, more attention will be paid towards human rights issues, which could take the form of additional sanctions on targeted Chinese firms or individuals. Kamala Harris is likely to be an influencing factor in this as well, such as her recent co-sponsorship of S.3744 – Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020.
- Be likely to engage in a military buildup in the Western Pacific as a deterrence to China’s increased militaristic assertiveness. Simultaneously, however, Biden recognizes that the U.S. and China must cooperate on not only key strategic issues such as the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but also transnational challenges such as slowing global climate change.
The only certainty that I can foresee with a potential Biden administration and its relationship with China is uncertainty. One can look back and see what Biden has done and how he has acted toward China in his 47 years in Washington; however, we do know that it’s murky and shady at best. The uncertainty of it all is bothersome. At least with Iran, we know what they want and what lengths they’ll likely go to in order to get it.
Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, we are likely to see China continue the aggressive pursuit of its national interests in the areas of security, technology, and financial services that the U.S. will feel compelled to respond to, likely at the cost of the business community. This marriage between economics and security policies is likely to continue under Biden, and we are likely to see more actions similar to the recent sanctions on 24 Chinese state-owned companies involved in the militaristic building in the South China Sea.
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