Americans who generally could care less about foreign policy take notice. (Chinese censors demanded the edit.) When NBA superstar LeBron James weighs in on the Hong Kong protests – not to express solidarity with those standing up for their freedom against violent crackdowns, but with the CCP government that is oppressing them, it’s clear to everyone that China’s influence has grown to dangerous levels here at home. Now, it’s all up to Biden and his foreign policy team to sit across the global chessboard from China and outplay our greatest rival since the Soviet Union. To be sure, Biden has some foreign-policy players who are highly esteemed around the think tank circuit. Their records of success on the global stage, however, aren’t as impressive as their ivy- tinged resumes. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is a consensus-driven box checker who might as well have been created in a lab by the Brookings Institute. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, currently dubbed the “climate czar,” is an almost comically bombastic and out-of-touch plutocrat who now goes around hectoring the world about the “existential threat” of CO2. Nicholas Burns, a former senior State Department bureaucrat, is the expected next U.S. Ambassador to China. None of them seem up to the task of taking on an increasingly aggressive CCP. And what about Joe Biden, the newly elevated commander in chief? Biden’s views on China seem to be a work in progress, which is troubling considering the man has worked in foreign policy for longer than I’ve been alive. On the most obvious points – China as a
ruthless economic competitor, CCP’s horrid treatment of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang province – he largely aligns with the views of his predecessor. On trade policy, Biden is expected to relax some of the more aggressive tariffs Trump put into place, if for no reason other than a desire to reverse what Trump did. Other than that, Biden’s moves against Beijing are anybody’s guess. The Communist leadership in Beijing has to see Biden’s ascension as an opening. Trump was responsible for awaking America from its sleepwalking about the real costs of China’s predations. Biden, who has been famously wrong about every major foreign-policy decision of the last four decades, may well lull us back to sleep. Xi has many cards to play with his administration, and the pull to be anything-but-Trump on policy will be strong enough on its own. With the start of the coronavirus in Wuhan and its ensuing spread resulting in a global pandemic, China likely changed the outcome of a U.S. election in 2020... and world history. As Biden settles into his new role as leader of the free world, he would be well advised to prepare for the possibility that China could be the wellspring of another crisis that tests his administration in ways he can barely begin to imagine now. Now, it's all up to Biden and his foreign policy team to sit across the global chessboard from China and outplay our greatest rival since the Soviet Union.
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