Lip Service on China Accomplishes Nothing - America's Future

March 18, 2021

Lip Service on China Accomplishes Nothing

By: Timothy Kennedy

The Biden Administration is only giving lip service to us regarding China. Instead of familiarizing themselves with the Chinese Communist Party’s doctrines and tactics, many senior officials have opted to become fluent in diplo-speak.

President Joe Biden, like many of his contemporaries, regards the Post-War Liberal International Order as the law of the land. But, as we’ve seen in places like China, our adversaries have no interest of going quietly into the night.

President Biden’s aging worldview was on full display at the Munich Security Conference last month. Brandishing his “new” foreign policy as “America is Back”, Biden spoke of lofty ambitions. For example, he emphasized strengthening transatlantic relations, coordinating a multilateral approach to combat COVID-19 and climate change, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, and “reclaiming our place in international institutions.”

Biden, “welcomes the stiff competition with China”. Meaning that he must believe that the 70-year-old Post-War Liberal International Order is here to stay. In his first address to the State Department in February, Biden went so far as to suggest that the U.S. is, “ready to work with work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so.” Steering clear of terms like nation-building, the current occupant of the White House has an affinity for democratization.  

As former China Country Director for the Secretary of Defense Joseph Bosco argues, we are currently facing a “zero-sum game” with the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, compromising with the regime means giving up various fundamental western values. Bosco further highlights Beijing’s list of grievances towards the Trump administration’s behavior. Most namely interfering in China’s “internal affairs” in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tibet.

In August of 2020, the Biden campaign labeled the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim and other minorities in Xinjiang as a genocide. Yet, nothing was mentioned at Munich about the Chinese government’s crimes against their own people. The same could be said for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet – all touchy subjects that were noticeably absent from the President’s speech.

While unveiling “A Foreign Policy for the American People,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken listed China as the our eighth priority. In fact, China is a lower priority than things like “shoring up Democracy at home” and “reforming America’s immigration system”.

On the subject, Secretary Blinken warned that:

China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values, and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.

In recent years, international institutions, like the World Trade and Health Organizations, have not served in the best interests of the American people, as seen by both organization’s kowtowing to China. 

The Biden administration talked a tough game on China. Contrary to Secretary of State Spokesperson Ned Price’s confusing diplomatic lingo, the past-tense is intentional. The recently announced high-level meeting between Secretary Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts in Alaska on March 18 only confirms my suspicions.

While in-front of an international audience, the Biden administration has and will continue to skirt around the Chinese Communist Party’s no-go zones: the Uyghur genocide, the Pro-Democracy Movement in Hong Kong and Taiwanese sovereignty. By catering to Chairman Xi Jinping’s dubious ambitions, the administration is banking on token wins to carry them through to another term. Giving just lip-service to problems with China needs to stop. Democracy will not spontaneously emerge under the direct totalitarian control of the Communist Party. There is no room for “reengagement”, or whatever that means, especially with those clearly uninterested in protecting their own citizens.