Biden takes a cautious course with China as tensions simmer


Relations between the United States and China are at a low point in the post-Trump era and nearly three weeks into his term. President BidenJoe BidenPostal Service Releases Profit After Christmas Deliveries Rise Night Defense: Pentagon Push to End Extremism in the Ranks | High Admiral Condemns Extremism After Noose, Hate Speech Uncovered Republican Senators Send Clear Signal: Trump Is Being Absolved MORE he has yet to speak with his counterpart in Beijing, President Xi Jinping.

Biden has vowed to take a different approach to China than before. President TrumpDonald TrumpSchoen Says Trump’s Team Will Be ‘Very Well Prepared’ Following Criticism Iowa Republicans Seek To Cut Funding For Schools With Project 1619 In Curriculum A Capitol Riot Seen Smoking In Rotunda Arrested MORE, who campaigned against China’s trade policies and later blamed Beijing for the coronavirus that devastated the US economy in the year of Trump’s re-election.

“I’m not going to do it the way Trump did,” Biden said of his approach to Beijing in an interview with CBS on Sunday. “We will focus on international traffic rules.”

Biden is facing heavy pressure to take a hard line with Beijing, and Republicans are already telegraphing that it will be a problem in the 2022 midterm elections, and likely in the 2024 presidential elections.

But the president has also said that he is willing to cooperate with Beijing when it is in the interest of the United States.

This includes efforts to defeat COVID-19, tackle climate change, expand nuclear non-proliferation, in particular, bring Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and control the North Korean nuclear threat, and, more recently, restoring democracy in Myanmar after the military coup.

Tensions between the two countries are high in the post-Trump era, partly due to rhetoric from the former president, who repeatedly called COVID-19 the “China virus,” referring to the fact that the first cases were identified. in the Chinese city of Wuhan. – but also because lawmakers from both parties are criticizing Beijing for a series of policies that affect the economy and national security.

Tensions most recently spilled over into the South China Sea after Beijing denounced the joint exercises by two groups of US carriers, calling them an attempt by the United States to “flex its muscles” in the region that damages “peace and stability. “.

The comments followed Beijing’s earlier frustration against the United States when an American warship sailed near the Chinese-controlled islands in the waters, where several countries in the region have made claims.

The US Seventh Fleet called the move a “freedom of navigation operation,” but the Chinese military accused the US of infringing on China’s sovereignty and security.

However, Chinese officials have also repeatedly called for “no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation” with the United States.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Energy Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Biden was critical in his foreign policy speech last week against Chinese policies, where he said the US leadership must confront the “ambitions of China to rival the United States. ” – but that the president and his team have been in no rush to engage with Beijing.

“They have other priorities, including coordinating with allies and partners,” he wrote in an email to The Hill.

“Meanwhile, the Chinese are sending the message that they are willing to improve bilateral relations, but only if it is in Chinese terms. There has not yet been a serious conversation between the two countries about how to handle their differences or how to cooperate on issues where they can have common ground. “

Biden said in his interview Sunday with CBS that there was no reason not to “call” Xi, and that the two have “a lot to talk about.”

The president said that he does not seek conflicts between the two nations, but warned that “there is going to be extreme competition.”

Secretary of state Antony blinkenAntony BlinkenBiden takes a cautious course with China as tensions simmer The EU says Russia could face new sanctions over Navalny’s imprisonment in Beijing and Washington sets ‘red lines’: who will blink first? PLUS he is the highest-ranking US official to speak to the Chinese so far, on a call last week with senior Chinese Communist Party official and diplomat Yang Jiechi.

The conversation focused largely on the antagonistic aspects of the relationship, with the secretary raising the issue of human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. On the latter issue, the secretary has sided with the Trump administration over its determination that China is carrying out genocide against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic groups.

Blinken also lobbied for China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar.

Beijing has so far refrained from calling the takeover of military power a coup, though it joined a United Nations Security Council statement calling for the restoration of democratic rule in the country and the release of government officials. detained and democratically elected.

Both Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake sullivanJake SullivanBiden Takes a Cautious Course with China as Tensions Simmer Night Defense: Biden Announces End of US Support for Offensive Operations in Yemen | Pentagon orders the use of masks indoors and outdoors | COVID Military Deaths Rise Biden: US Takes ‘Urgent’ Action to Improve Cybersecurity MORE, who has not spoken to any Chinese officials, has made calls with allies in Europe and Asia about how to deal with threats from China.

Sullivan had previously said it is a priority to be on the same page with allies on the Beijing deal, during an event with the US Institute of Peace last month.

“I think China is at the top of the list of things we have to work on together and where there is work to be done to fully align,” he said.

Sullivan also said the United States should be prepared to impose costs on Beijing for its human rights abuses, but did not elaborate on those measures.

However, Republicans are laying the groundwork to push Biden harder to get tough on Beijing. They are particularly critical of China’s influence in the World Health Organization.

Biden rejoined the global body on his first day in office, reversing Trump’s withdrawal from the organization in July over criticism that he did not confront Beijing over the spread of COVID-19.

Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) Y Josh hawleyJoshua (Josh) David Hawley GOP senators send a clear signal: Trump’s acquittal Video stirs emotions on the first day of Trump’s trial Biden takes a cautious tactic in China as tensions boil MORE (R-Mo.) He took advantage of these criticisms Tuesday, introducing legislation aimed at withholding US funds from the WHO. Their statement followed the publication of a WHO investigation that they criticized for failing to address Beijing’s role in spreading the virus.

“WHO’s mission is to bring public health information to the world so that each country can make the best decisions to keep its citizens safe,” Scott said in a statement. “The WHO not only failed in its mission, it failed the world when it comes to the coronavirus. They served as a puppet for the Communist Party of China, repeating misinformation and helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic. “

The introduction of the bill coincided with the WHO’s release of preliminary findings from an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China, which found that the disease “most likely” originated in animals before jumping to humans, although it did not assess the deficiencies of the response.

Hawley, who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024, criticized the WHO for prioritizing “the interests of the Chinese Communist Party over building a healthier world.”

Senator Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonVideo stirs emotions on day one of Trump’s trial Biden takes a cautious course with China as tensions simmer Republican bill seeking to ban Project 1619 in Arkansas schools rejected by committee led by the Republican Party MORE (R-Ark.), Also a possible presidential candidate, tweeted in response to the investigation that “[for] over a year, the apologists for the Chinese Communist Party in [the WHO] they have tried to spin around the origins of the coronavirus. “

Former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki haleyNikki HaleyBiden Takes A Cautious Course With China As Tensions Simmer The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By TikTok – The Senate trial will have drama, but it’s no wonder the end of the Biden administration announces plans to return to join the UN human rights council MORE, another possible Republican presidential hopeful, also criticized the WHO investigation, tweeting that it should have focused on “when did China learn” about the coronavirus “and why they kept it from the rest of the world …”

Senator Lindsey grahamLindsey Olin Graham Senate Sets Hearing On Garland’s Nomination As Attorney General Cassidy Calls Trump’s Attorneys “Disorganized” After Surprise Vote To Proceed With Trial NIGHT ENERGY: Senate Advances Biden Election Nomination by the EPA, Regan | Study: Air Pollution from Fossil Fuels Linked to 1 in 5 Deaths Worldwide | Biden has more time to decide on Dakota Access Pipeline MORE (RS.C.), in an interview with CBS’s Meet the Press on Sunday, warned that Biden is dismissing Trump’s foreign policies wholesale, including those related to China.

“I would slow down if I was President Biden and re-evaluate some of these Trump policies and keep them in place if they make sense,” he said.

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