At many points during his presidential campaign, former vice-president Joe Biden has warned some foreign policy doves and progressive activists with what seemed to be belligerence toward China like when he said in an April ad that President Donald Trump “rolled over for the Chinese” and vowed to be tougher.
These type of messages run the danger of strengthening hawkishness and racism at home and making other items on Biden’s aim like reassembling international action against climate change and ending the economic pain of Trump’s trade wars harder to archieved.
But some clear political motivation exist for Joe Biden to push an aggressive attitude. For one thing, Trump and his allies are referring to the Democrat “Beijing Biden” and indicating his son Hunter’s former business venture in the country. That has built what some Biden allies say is an obvious need to respond with bluster.
And a Pew review carried out in June and July discovered that Americans have an increasingly unfavorable view of China, with Democrats especially wary of the U.S.’s close economic relationship with the country and interested to press its leaders on human rights worries, like the Chinese government’s abuses against Uighurs. Democratic officials are keen to indicate Trump’s record of flattering Chinese President Xi Jinping and overlooking Xi’s failure to uphold his side of Trump’s much-touted trade deal by buying more U.S. goods.
Biden’s posture has indicated these battle pressures. In May, he dropped a less alarmist message, only just focusing on President Donald Trump’s support for China’s leadership and avoiding fear-mongering about Chinese people. In his speech approving the nomination at the virtual Democratic National Convention on Thursday, former vice-president Joe Biden only said of China: “We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people.”
Yet the party’s 2020 platform declare China 22 times in largely adversarial terms compared to seven references in the 2016 document. And overall, the current platform follow a tone that suggests it’s chosen to be involved in what experts alert could be a race to the bottom and a more risk world.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s foreign policy circle also highlights to a potentially more hawkish approach. Michèle Flournoy, widely anticipated to be tapped by Biden as defense secretary, recently wrote that while arguments would not serve the interests of either the U.S. or China, the American military and its partners should think about developing capabilities to, for example, sink the entire Chinese Navy within 72 hours to deter Beijing. Flournoy quarreled that China was becoming more confident because it regarded Washington as weak.
Another Biden national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, also has requested for more U.S.-led naval exercises in waters near China.
Marcy Winograd, a Democratic convention delegate, said, “I would urge the Biden administration to reject advice from” Flournoy.
Winograd, who assisted organize a letter signed by hundreds of delegates that attacked Flournoy, Sullivan and other top Biden foreign policy aides, continued in an email, “What would we think if China conducted war games off the coast of California? We would interpret it as a threat.”
Her remarks show how China could split the party’s factions in spite of the unity it has boosted on other international matters, like ending U.S. support for a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen that Biden and former President Barack Obama greenlit. Biden’s dedication to that has impressed her, Winograd said.
The repeated references at the Democratic convention about winning over Republicans and showcasing Biden’s ties to figures associated with foreign interventions like Iraq War architect Collin Powell and late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also gave an idea that the candidate isn’t as wary of the thinking that resulted to past mistakes as some in his coalition would like. Indeed, some Republican foreign policy figures, including former Trump officials, see an opportunity to assist shape Biden’s approach to China because they have surrendered on the president, The Daily Beast reported.
Speaking to reporters during the convention, influential Democrats working on global affairs highlighted a party consensus on the China matter and confidence that Biden would draw a thoughtful plan in office.
In Joe Biden, the nation would be “putting somebody in the White House who understands how to fight and cooperate with a country like China at the same time,” said Sen.Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who party insiders frequently mention as a possible secretary of state. “There are very few people, maybe no one else that we could have nominated for president, who will be ready to understand the complicated nuance of that relationship better than him.”
Rep.Ro Khanna of California, who co-chaired the Democratic presidential primary campaign of Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said the party is giving “a two-track approach” that is “different from Trump’s call for a new Cold War.”
Asked about worries from the left that Democrats could follow an overly confrontational approach, particularly in attempting to court some GOP voters, Khanna said, “I don’t think that’s where Biden’s instincts are. I think he will seek to bridge divides around the world and project a better and more cooperative American framework.”
Murphy added that in this election, “We are the national security party.”
A policy born of that identity isn’t necessarily bellicose; in speaking of areas to compete with China, for example, Murphy allegedly has requested for the U.S. to motivate innovation more fast than that nation. And China experts advising Biden like Ely Ratner and Ryan Hass have spoken of making sure the U.S. is focused on restoring its strength at home and making clear it look to connect with Beijing beyond just pressuring it.
Still, the public perception and environment that Democrats create issues and the political winds they help shape can eventually influence critical decisions on international relations more than careful analysis.
“We have to also speak about ending these wars and the foreign interventionism and I’m hopeful that that will be part of the theme tonight,” Khanna said ahead of the convention’s final night.