In a speech Wednesday by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and an accompanying national security strategy document, the Biden administration signaled the administration’s continued and escalating “big power competition” Trump with Russia and China.
But to an even greater extent than its predecessor, the Biden administration points to China as America’s greatest adversary and the target of the conflict. In his remarks on the Interim Strategy Paper, Blinken concluded: âSeveral countries present us with serious challenges, including Russia, Iran, North Koreaâ¦ but the challenge posed by China is different. China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power “to” challenge “the United States.
Biden’s focus on the US conflict with China includes the explicit threat of war. âThe United States will never hesitate to use force when necessary to defend our vital national interests,â the national security strategy document states. “We will ensure that our armed forces are equipped to … overcome emerging threats.”
The Trump administration’s realignment of US foreign policy towards conflict with China has been widely seen as its defining foreign policy stance. Trump’s âAmerica Firstâ nationalism – involving protectionism and mercantilist trade warfare policies, was inseparable from his orientation toward conflict with China.
Likewise, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will continue Trump’s trade war policy.
âSome of us have previously advocated for free trade agreements because we believed those agreements would shape the world economy the way we wanted,â said Blinken. âOur approach will now be different. We will fight for every American job and for the rights, protections and interests of all American workers. Foreign police argued earlier this month that Biden’s foreign policy was a “smoother, smoother spin of ‘America First’.” This comparison is easy at best; many of the new administration’s statements sound neither nicer nor sweeter. “Wherever the rules for international security and the global economy are written, America will be there and the best interests of the American people will be at the forefront,” says Biden’s national security document.
A focal point will be the attempt to recruit the American population to support this conflict. The document states, âWe also need to make it clear to the American people that running the world is not an investment we make to feel good about ourselves. This is how we ensure that the American people can live in peace, security and prosperity. It is in our undeniable personal interest.
To this end, the two sides have worked for years to demonize China. Trump has declared COVID-19 to be the “Chinese virus” and the “kung flu”, while the Biden administration has continued to claim that the disease may have been created in a Chinese lab, while accusing China of genocide.
These calls have had an effect on public consciousness. Nine in 10 Americans now see China as a competitor or an enemy, rather than a partner, according to a Pew poll conducted last month. And two-thirds of those polled have âcold feelingsâ towards Beijing, up from 46% just two years ago.
âThe fact that the Republican and Democratic administrations have defined the relationship as a strategic competition and highlighted the many threats China has posed, it is no surprise that more and more Americans – who read and hear about of this daily – more and more. concerned and have an unfavorable view of China, âsaid Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In his book The room where it happened Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, who on most foreign policy issues aligns with Democrats, made the following assessment of the Trump administration:
Trump in some ways embodies America’s growing concern for China. He appreciates the key truth that politico-military power rests on a strong economy. The stronger the economy, the greater the capacity to sustain large military and intelligence budgets to protect America’s global interests and compete with multiple potential regional hegemons. Trump often says explicitly that stopping China’s unfair economic growth at the expense of the United States is the best way to defeat China militarily, which is fundamentally correct. These views, in an otherwise deeply divided Washington, have contributed to significant changes in the terms of the US debate on these issues.
It was this view that guided the drafting of the 2018 National Defense Strategy under the leadership of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who concluded: âStrategic interstate competition, not terrorism, is now the main focus. concern for the national security of the United States.
Under Trump, the corollary of this approach was not simply a trade war, but preparations for full-scale nuclear war. The White House’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was aimed centrally at blasting China with nuclear missiles, and Trump accelerated a trillion-dollar build up of U.S. nuclear weapons. These preparations will continue under Biden.