Biden on ‘Short Leash’ as Administration Rethinks China Relations
WASHINGTON – Biden administration officials have tried to present a tougher line on China in its first week in office, reflecting authoritarian government as an economic and security challenge for the United States, which is far more strategic than And calculative approaches are required. Of the Trump administration.
He has also tried to send a message: While the administration will work with many familiar faces of the Obama administration, China’s policy will not return to what it was a decade ago.
These early efforts have not concealed the enormous challenge President Biden faces in trying to devise a strategy to deal with China at a time when any relationship with Beijing is considered completely toxic in Washington. Political advisors, including Republican lawmakers, have already begun investigating the statements of Mr. Biden’s advisors, which President Donald J. Trump’s punishments are set to be withdrawn, including tariffs and restrictions for technology.
Ted Cruz is a Republican senator from Texas Held a hold On the confirmation of Gina Raymondo, nominated for Mr. Biden’s Secretary of Commerce, to delay a vote on his confirmation, Fall to commit clearly To put Chinese telecommunications company Huawei on a national security blacklist. Some Republican lawmakers have also criticized Mr Biden’s pick for Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN ambassador Giving a speech At the Confucian Institute, an organization described some as painting a rosy picture of Chinese propaganda, and China’s activities in Africa.
Many republicans, Senator Charles E. With Grassley Iowa, also criticized statements last week criticizing the withdrawal of a rule proposed by the Biden administration during the Trump administration, saying its financial ties to universities set up for Confucian institutions, organizations established to teach Chinese language and culture in Chinese schools Will need to be disclosed. .
Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former US business negotiator, said, “The Biden administration has a lot to do with regard to anything.
Mr. Trump’s supporters have credited him with taking a more aggressive stance than his predecessors ruling in China, including many rare policy tools. Which includes plating Major tariffs On Chinese goods, limiting Beijing’s access to sensitive US technology exports, banning Chinese authorities and companies for violating and acquiring human rights Economic concessions As part of a trade deal from China.
But Mr. Trump’s critics, including many in the Biden administration, say his argument about executive orders and other actions was inconsistent and fragmentary, and often more symbolic than effective.
As Mr. Trump issued harsh punishments on some fronts, that too Expanded a lifeline ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications company Delayed restriction Related to human rights violations in Xinjiang region of China and Publicly flattering Chinese President Xi Jinping called for his trade agreement. Mr. Trump took several executive actions against China Left unfinished, Or were riddled with Drawbacks.
And its policies may have eroded American competition in some areas, according to one The report was published on Wednesday By consulting firm Rhodium Group and the US Chamber of Commerce China Center. The report said Mr. Trump would have halted the cost of economic “decompiling” by chasing Mr. Trump, including an annual loss of $ 190 billion in US economic output by 2025 if all US-China trade follows 25 percent of tariffs. Mr. Trump imposed $ 250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Rhodium Group founding partner Daniel Rosen said the Biden administration needed to consider more than politics or ideology when China implements policy, including carefully weighing the costs of its approach to industry.
He said that politics is obviously here at this time, in which no one is in the leadership or aspiring for leadership, which is tough on China. “We will not serve American interests if we do not consider commercial interests and national security interests at the same time.”
The Biden administration has argued that being more strategic in addressing China would ultimately make it more effective than the Trump administration. This has led to an ambitious task as it not only looks at unfair trade practices for China but also develops a national strategy that helps improve the US economic situation.
Speaking at Atlantic Council In late January, National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan stated that the United States had to first deal with issues such as economic and racial inequality, as well as “revive the basic foundations of democracy” by investing in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence was needed. Quantum Computing and Clean Energy.
Mr. Biden has also emphasized the importance of working closely with collaborative and international institutions to adopt a strict global stance, so companies do not tighten US regulations by shutting down their operations.
Mr. Biden organized He had his first meeting with Mr. Xi On 10 February, in which he spoke about the preservation of an independent and open Indo-Pacific and shared concerns about Beijing’s economic and human rights practices. To read in a White House.
In a town hall-style forum broadcast Tuesday night by CNN, Mr. Biden, who knows Mr. Xi well Meetings during the Obama administration, He took a tough stance on human rights and other issues during his two-hour call.
“There will be consequences for China, and he knows that,” Mr. Biden said. “What I’m doing is clarifying that we are, in fact, going to continue our role as human rights spokespersons and others in the United Nations – other agencies that impact their attitude.”
Mr. Biden has started operating his cabinet with officials with deep experience with China. Katherine Tai, a Biden administration nominee for trade representative, was in charge of lawsuits against China at the World Trade Organization during the Obama administration, and has promised to take a tight line to enforce US trade rules.
Mr. Biden’s top foreign policy advisers have also expressed critical views about China’s practices, although many see the possibility of cooperation on issues such as the coronovirus epidemic and climate change. In which “Asia czar” Secretary of State Antony J. of the National Security Council. Blinken, Mr. Sullivan and Kurt Campbell.
Ms. Raymondo, who is also named Secretary of Commerce, will also have scope for economic relations with China, particularly related to technology. While he had harsh words for China During his confirmation hearing, Republican lawmakers like Mr. Cruz were criticized for refusing to commit to putting Huawei on the government blacklist.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who is expected to play a pivotal role in relations with China, took a hard line at his confirmation hearing last month, which uses America’s “full array” of tools to combat this illegal, unfair and abusive Was trying to do. Can practice. It has also criticized China’s practices of stealing intellectual property and subsidizing state-owned enterprises, but said it did not consider Mr. Trump’s tariffs as a “proper focus” of trade policy.
The new administration has given some concrete information about how it will implement its strategy, in which it will be implemented Several China-related executive orders Mr. Trump introduced, as regards the military, with new restrictions on investment in Chinese companies and bans on Chinese-owned apps, such as Tiktok, WeChat and Alipay. Instead, the administration has said it will conduct a comprehensive review of Mr. Trump’s tariffs, export controls and other restrictions before making a decision.
Another uncertainty is how Mr. Biden and his team will carry out Mr. Trump’s initial trade deal with China, which Beijing gave Steadily decreasing Its promise to buy hundreds of billions of dollars of American products. The administration could face the option of using the deal’s enforcement mechanism – including consulting and overcharging for Chinese products – or ending the agreement altogether.
Scott Kennedy, a senior adviser on Chinese trade and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Biden administration had articulated a large toolbox of foreign policy goals and measures at its disposal, but it was not yet thought that How to merge strategy. And strategy. “
On American competition with China, “Mr. Kennedy said,” much larger negotiations are needed. “” Are they going to join that conversation and be ready to do that in-depth analysis and try something new? Or are they going to fear political backlash and pull their punches? “
Mr. Biden’s plan to engage more closely with US allies to pressure China may also come in handy.
In an interview in January, shortly before he stepped down, Robert Trumpiser, Mr. Trump’s top trade official, pointed to the recently signed EU investment agreement with China, Against wishes The Biden administration, as the “first piece of evidence” that such multilateral cooperation would be difficult.
Ms Cutler said that Chinese officials are already trying to “divide and conquer” with American allies like New Zealand and South Korea.
China has Emerged from infancy The epidemic spread to the factories and businesses in the United States and Europe, where the coronovirus is disrupting the economy. While Chinese leaders, led by Mr. Trump, are trying to reestablish relations with Washington, they have continued to make harsh statements at times.
In an interview with CBS News on February 7, Mr. Biden stated that the two countries “do not need a conflict. But there is going to be intense competition.”
“I’m not going to do the way Trump did,” Mr. Biden said. “We are going to focus on international rules of the road.”
Alan Rappaport Contributed to reporting.