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On the campaign trail, Joe Biden showed his displeasure with the Chinese Communist Party by calling Xi Jinping a thug. However, in the White House, Biden’s plan to combat the genocidal Chinese regime is still unclear.
With Biden-Harris, the U.S., in addition to going back to the World Health Organization, an organization complicit with Beijing in the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, has also begun to give ground on other fronts.
The United States’ position has been fundamental for the defense of democratic values in view of the growth of the Chinese Communist Party’s influence. Nationalism within institutions, an arms race, coercive diplomacy, and an unfree economy are some of the great dangers posed by China’s rise.
One of China’s strongest means of expansion is its soft power. These are diplomatic and economic actions that seek to conquer new markets and communities while evading responsibilities and sanctions due to human rights violations, crimes against humanity, and non-transparent information management practices.
The hegemony of transparency, democracy, and freedom led by the United States will depend on the insight and forcefulness with which the Biden Administration executes policies in the face of the threat of authoritarian regimes such as China.
For example, the Trump Administration called the UN’s Human Rights Council hypocritical and self-serving and spoke out at the time against China’s participation as a member, which resulted in June 2018 in the United States’ departure from it, focusing instead on sanctions against China for its human rights violations.
The U.S. in the UN in the Biden era
Since 2013, China has dominated the agenda at the United Nations (UN). Despite committing human rights violations, China is part of the committee that monitors that human rights are respected globally.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to participate and collaborate in the protection of human rights with regimes that violate them. The President has appointed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Thomas-Greenfield has told the press of her strategy at the UN: Paying U.S. fees to the peace organization, which had been suspended by Trump for questioning its legitimacy and return to committees where according to Thomas-Greenfield, “the United States must not allow other powers to fill its vacuum,” referring to China.
“In particular, we know that China is working throughout the UN system to push an authoritarian agenda that runs counter to the core values of the institution – American values.”Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Despite her strategy, the new ambassador to the UN has been questioned for her participation in Confucius Institute activities.
The Confucius Institute is an organization of China’s Ministry of Education, which has been banned in some countries for spreading Chinese Communist Party propaganda and being a source of persecution and surveillance.
The diplomat chosen by Biden assured the media that the aforementioned speech was out of “esteem for the university”.
“Honestly, I wish I hadn’t accepted the specific invitation. And I came away from the experience frankly alarmed at the way the Confucius Institute was engaging with the black community in Georgia.”Thomas-Greenfield
Thomas-Greenfield has said that the U.S. must act intelligently vis-à-vis China and other authoritarian regimes. However, analysts agree in questioning a career diplomat like Thomas-Greenfield establishing a relationship with the controversial institute.
Biden follows Obama’s path against the Chinese Communist Party’s soft power
The choice of Thomas-Greenfield raises alarms about the stance the Biden-Harris Administration will take on China’s power at the United Nations.
The Obama-Biden administration bowed to pressure from China in the so-called balance of power strategy. Such policy not only allowed Beijing to advance in technological and economic matters, where “China by purchasing power parity (PPP), surpassed the United States as the largest economy in 2014.”
Moreover, in foreign policy, Obama-Biden failed in one of the biggest defeats to the United States in Asia, in which China took military control of the Indo-Pacific region.
Currently, China has a clear path at the UN and at the Human Rights Council. Let us recall that last October 2020, in spite of the denunciations made by the US delegation, the Asian giant had the support of 45 countries to remain a member of the council.
Emma Reilly and the Chinese victims in the UN
Human rights advocate Emma Reilly has been making a series of points about how China controls the UN Human Rights Council and the effects this influence has had on victims or activists who denounce Beijing’s atrocities since 2013, when the Obama-Biden administration was part of it.
According to Emma Reilly, the UN human rights office transfers to the Beijing delegation all the information on victims or activists from various countries who will testify against the Chinese Communist Party. Information on more than 70 victims and activists from China, the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom has been handed over to the Chinese delegation.
Reilly told the press that China had requested that his office hand over the names of Chinese dissidents who would be attending the UN Human Rights Council from 2013. He added that “once the names are handed over to the Chinese government, both the activists and their families are pressured not to attend the meetings, some were even arrested and tortured, and in one case, one person reportedly died while in detention.”
Allegations about the UN human rights office have been coming since 2013, the year the U.S. government was a member of the committee. Emma Reilly told the press, that this type of actions “goes against the basic rules” of the international body, precisely because they put the victims at risk, and adds that “other governments, usually make the same type of request, but they have been rejected.”
Senator Ted Cruz has constantly denounced this situation. He said to Fox News: “The United States should absolutely withhold these funds if it is true that the UN actively helped the Chinese Communist Party by leaking the identities of dissidents who spoke out against human rights violations, or if the UN is now targeting the whistleblower who spoke out against these leaks.”
According to analysts, if Biden returns to Obama’s path in foreign policy, the U.S. will lose engagement with its allies in Asia and leave the way clear for China to assert itself against democratic values through soft power and military strength.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán