Leer en Español
The effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should include profound changes in U.S. foreign policy, both in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific. But the Biden administration will continue to get clinging, as far as it can, to Obama’s accommodating China policy. Domestic pressures for a global strategic response from Washington to Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions depend on the Democratic administration facing a Republican-majority House of Representatives after the mid-term congressional elections, while external pressures are already coming from allies in the Indo-Pacific.
Biden will not renounce the Obama dual policy of competition and cooperation towards China and will continue to cling to a sterile pursuit of constructive engagement with Beijing. The new Indo-Pacific strategy announced in February focused on “addressing climate change” and made no mention of Beijing’s aggressive destabilizing actions. The document only mentions Washington’s continued diplomatic and military cooperation with its allies and diplomatic and military assistance to Taiwan, in a tone that avoids Beijing’s “red lines.”
A comprehensive strategic shift would necessarily involve strengthening the Justice Department’s Initiative to identify and prosecute Beijing’s trade secret theft, piracy and economic espionage, as well as to protect critical infrastructure from potential Chinese threats and reveal covert Chinese efforts to influence U.S. lawmakers. But Attorney General Garland announced that such an initiative is under review and the initiative’s website has not been updated in months, which seems to indicate that it would be frozen.
The Democratic-majority House of Representatives recently passed the COMPETES Act, that discussion opened the opportunity for a bipartisan consensus on American security and competitiveness in the face of the complex challenges posed by Beijing’s imperial policies. A missed opportunity as the bill barely mentions Beijing and limits itself to a series of domestic and climate policies.
A dissenting voice in the administration itself was that of FBI Director Christopher Wray, when on January 31 he declared:
“The Chinese government’s disregard for the norms of global leadership, ruthless hunger for economic superiority, and its desire to influence U.S. policy make it a threat to U.S. national security.”
There are expert warnings, for example, in its March 1 update a Congressional Research Service -CRS- report titled Renewed Great Power Competition Implications for Defense states:
“The emergence of competition from great powers such as China and Russia have profoundly changed the discussion of U.S. defense issues from the one, we had in the post-Cold War era (…) China’s nuclear weapons capabilities are currently more modest than Russia’s, but China is reportedly modernizing and rapidly building up its nuclear forces as part of its overall military modernization effort.”
The Biden administration insists on prioritizing the pursuit of Chinese cooperation in “global climate action” despite Beijing’s rejection of it, dismissing Washington’s environmental urgency. The Obama administration persisted in its policy of competition and cooperation with no other result than to weaken the U.S. position vis-à-vis Beijing and Biden is sticking to the same policy. If the mid-term elections yield a Republican majority in the House, Representatives Mike Rogers and Michael McCaul would likely chair the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees pushing for a Global Strategic Response to China. But without a Republican majority in the Senate, Biden would keep his China policy largely intact.
A cowardly attitude in the face of the influence of the neo-Marxist wing in Democratic politics, domestic and foreign failures and growing unpopularity would be a regrettable explanation, but with the Bush, Pelosi and Biden families’ business dealings with China revealed by Peter Schweizer in his book “Red Handed: How American Elites are Helping China Win” (which I recently reviewed) Biden’s insistence on “business as usual” with China looks even worse.
To keep up with major developments from our reporters, sign up for El American’s free daily newsletter.
Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros