On January 20, the United States will usher in the Biden era. As an established politician, how will ambitious Biden plan his four years?
In the face of the rampant coronavirus epidemic, will he let the public wear masks through an executive order? Racial tears continue, and can his efforts to fabricate a “plural” cabinet promote racial equality? Will the tightening of U.S.-China relations and the U.S.-EU relationship be at a turning point and abandoning the “America First” strategy?
Can the vaccination acceleration program be promoted?
As of January 17th local time, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States exceeded 23.7 million, and the cumulative number of deaths was nearly 400,000.
On December 8 last year, Biden promised people in Wilmington, Delaware, that opening schools, wearing masks and vaccinating against the novel coronavirus were his three main goals in his 100 days in office.
He promised that the new government would provide sufficient funds for school districts to help schools implement safety measures so that most schools can reopen.
Biden has also stressed the importance of wearing a mask on several occasions, saying that he will sign an executive order to wear a mask after taking office.
However, the president does not unilaterally impose the power to wear masks by all people. Biden said that the order would be implemented within his authority, such as requiring people to wear masks in federal buildings and when flying or on the train.
In fact, wearing a mask is perhaps one of the most controversial topics in the United States during the coronavirus epidemic.
The BBC noted that scientific evidence is constantly given a “partisan color” and masks have become a catalyst for political conflict between the two parties.
Liu Weidong, a researcher at the American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the controversy over masks during the coronavirus epidemic actually highlights the value confrontation between the two parties.
Democrats emphasize that everyone has the obligation to protect themselves and others, while the Republican Party advocates that individual rights are free from any interference. What’s more, Trump is still interested in hyping up the issue, and the issue of masks has become highly politicized.
Xie Tao, dean of the School of International Relations of Beijing International Studies University, said that whether the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to rise or the mutation of the novel coronavirus, the American people are gradually aware of the seriousness of the epidemic. People’s willingness to wear masks has increased compared with the beginning.
The key is the specific operation of the mask order. Otherwise, when Biden comes to power, the implementation of the mask order may encounter a series of troubles. Republican-oriented states may boycott, hold demonstrations and even cause legal disputes.
Plans to distribute vaccines are also not smooth. Biden promised 100 million doses of vaccine within 100 days in office, but distribution is far short of the target.
In order to further expand the coverage of the vaccine, Biden will try to launch almost all the coronavirus vaccines for the first time after taking office, according to CNN.
On January 14, Biden released a $1.9 trillion “American rescue plan”, of which about $400 billion will be directly used to fight the epidemic. He called for the establishment of mass vaccination centers and the dispatch of mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas.
On January 15, Biden’s team announced a vaccination acceleration plan, hoping to expand the vaccination population, including teachers, people over 65 years old and people who are currently ineligible for vaccination.
The Biden team said it would use the Defense Production Act to increase the production of medical supplies and support the storage and transportation of vaccines.
Biden said he hoped that FEMA would establish 100 vaccination centers within one month of his appointment, and the number of subsequent vaccination centers would increase.
“On the one hand, Biden hopes to increase people’s evaluation of the new government by expanding the vaccine coverage group and directly benefiting more people.
On the other hand, this will also push vaccine manufacturers to accelerate production and keep up with the supply of the second needle.
Liu Weidong believes that the possibility of vaccinating 60% of Americans within 4-6 months is the key to the success or failure of the Biden administration in the fight against the epidemic.
Will the $1.9 trillion rescue plan be realized?
The coronavirus epidemic has seriously impacted the economic development of the United States. NPR notes that Biden will take over a particularly “vulnerable” economy.
On January 14th local time, the U.S. Department of Labor released a report that 1.15 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the first week of the New Year, an increase of 25% over the previous week.
According to the Wall Street Journal, due to the gradual cold weather and the restrictions imposed by the government, many restaurants and bars have been forced to close or downsize, and in December alone, they cut 372,000 jobs.
Other hotels, museums, tourist attractions and government agencies and schools that are extremely vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus have also laid off staff.
In response to the impact of the epidemic, in March 2020, the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States passed the largest economic relief plan in history, worth $2 trillion.
Subsequently, the two houses went through nine months of mutual “tearing” and at the end of the year, Trump signed another nearly $900 billion coronavirus relief plan.
Wang Yong, director of the American Research Center of the School of International Relations of Peking University, believes that the purpose of the two economic rescue plans is only to rescue people’s livelihood problems and provide subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises, but it does not provide much help for the US economy to resume substantial growth.
Troy Ludtka, an economist at the French Foreign Trade Bank (Natixis), told USA Today that the next two or three months are likely to be the period when the epidemic has the greatest economic impact.
So, what other economic “cards” can Biden play after taking office?
On January 14, he released the “American Relief Plan” worth 1.9 trillion yuan, in addition to the funds used to fight the epidemic, and about $1 trillion will provide economic relief to American families hit by the epidemic, and about $440 billion will be used to assist small businesses, state and local governments struggling with the epidemic.
Of course, this plan needs to be approved by Congress.
Recently, Democrats have successively won two Senate seats in Georgia, and again control both the Senate and the White House after 10 years.
However, Liu Weidong pointed out that the Democratic Party’s control of the Senate is very “fragile”, and there are also differences within the Democratic Party on the economic stimulus package.
At that time, if a Democratic congressman does not agree with Biden’s concept, even if it just abstains, the bill advocated by Biden will be difficult to implement.
Xie Tao also pointed out that even if the Republican Party is no longer a majority party, according to the rules of the Senate, Republicans still have many ways to block the passage of legislation.
Economic relief is increasing, and the financial burden is getting heavier and heavier.
Wang Yong believes that the fiscal deficit of the United States is getting worse and worse, the space for monetary policy is becoming more and more limited, and the debt level is rising, which consumes the potential of the United States to resume economic growth in the future, thus forming a vicious circle.
Facing the fiscal situation of over-spent, Biden may seek to reduce spending in other areas.
Xie Tao said, for example, cutting military spending, reducing medical assistance and reducing the cost of social security benefits will be the direction of Biden’s efforts.
In addition, in terms of government revenue, Biden advocates raising tax rates. According to the U.S. Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), Biden explicitly proposed tax reform and advocated taxing the rich.
Liu Weidong pointed out that the current government budget deficit is too high, and the new government needs to fill the gap through tax increases to ensure basic national expenditure.
However, this tax reform plan may encounter a “rebound” at home. Biden’s tax plan is basically in the right direction. The gap between rich and poor in American society must be solved through taxation, but taxation undoubtedly touches the cheese of the rich class, including the middle class, and is bound to attract opposition.
The rich will further use lobbying power to try to influence Biden’s policies. So it would be safer for Biden to adopt a moderate and gradual policy.” Wang Yong said.
Finally, economic recovery also requires attracting investment, such as expanding infrastructure.
Liu Weidong believes that Biden will further liberalize and encourage foreign investment in the United States, while promoting the export of dominant products such as energy, agricultural products and high-tech products.
Xie Tao pointed out that the U.S. Constitution stipulates that Biden must be supported by both houses to make a difference in the economy after taking office.
“In terms of stimulus, multiple goals cannot be achieved simultaneously, requiring Democrats to constantly measure trade-offs.
Build the most diversified cabinet in history and achieve racial equality?
The Capitol Hill wrote that Biden will face great pressure to address racial inequality on his first day as president. Over the past year, there have been many large-scale protests in the United States, and people are eager for Biden to take immediate action to achieve racial equality nationwide.
On May 25, 2020, local time, white police in Minnesota violently kneeled and crushed Floyd, an African-American man, to the neck for eight minutes, resulting in his death.
Freud incident aroused public anger, and people began to carry out demonstrations against violent police law enforcement and racial discrimination throughout the United States. In this series of protests, people shouted “Black Lives Matter”.
Subsequently, a similar incident occurred in Wisconsin. Three Wisconsin police officers in Kenosha tried to arrest Jacob Black, an African-American man, for domestic violence.
Black went straight to his car. Three policemen fired seven shots behind him and paralyzed Black. The case once again triggered a popular demonstration and became part of the “Black Lives are Life” campaign.
Many people believe that the Freud incident has re-opened the deep-rooted scars of racism in American society.
A joint statement from some North Carolina majors said, “As a society as a whole, we cannot tolerate this kind of police violence rooted in systemic racism”.
Race has been a central issue in Biden’s campaign, and he has also listed restoring racial equality as one of his four priorities in his term. But Hogg, a lecturer at Columbia University Law School, worries that the Biden administration will “isolate” racial equality issues when setting the agenda.
She believes that the issue of racial equality should run through every policy area of the Biden administration, including climate change, response to the epidemic and economic recovery, and should not be regarded as an independent issue.
Meanwhile, Biden is trying to create the most diverse cabinet in history to show that minority interests will be reflected in policymaking. Liu Weidong pointed out that Biden’s cabinet nomination choice is closely related to the growing racial problem in the United States.
In addition, through pluralistic appointments, he can continue to maintain the support of minorities and female voters.
Wang Yong also believes that Biden’s cabinet composition shows that he is trying to create a “progressive” government that promotes the development of policy pluralism with a pluralistic composition of officials.
However, this group of cabinets also have a lot of “experimental” and “uncertainty”, and the governance ability needs to be further tested.
However, a pluralistic cabinet appointment does not mean that the issue of race must be effectively addressed.” Appointing only a few minority officials does not amount to a focus on minority interests, otherwise the issue of race would be effectively addressed under the Obama administration.” Xie Tao said.
According to the analysis of the U.S. political news website Politico, racism within the United States has a long-term and systemic feature, and systemic racism will not disappear with a summer of protests and the inauguration of the new president.
In addition, Biden said that he would promote the Equality Act within 100 days of taking office, paying attention to the economic status of minorities and promoting racial equality. However, Xie Tao believes that the progress of the Equality Act is not optimistic, and if the Democrats move the bill too radically, it is bound to cause Republican dissatisfaction. At present, when the Democratic Party controls both the Senate and the White House, it seems to be “one-party domination”. If the Democratic Party stimulates the Republican Party with issues with obvious differences between the two parties at this time, it will only make Republicans feel that their legitimate and reasonable demands are no longer taken into account, and will further aggravate the contradictions between the two parties.
Wang Yong pointed out that the contradiction of racial inequality in the United States has accumulated over a long time and is unlikely to be resolved in the short term. For now, it is obvious that the Biden administration will show a positive political attitude and introduce policies to improve the situation of ethnic minorities, so that the chronic disease of race will be alleviated to some extent, but not cured.
What’s more, sometimes the issue of race is just a “card” in the bipartisan struggle. Liu Weidong pointed out that in order to truly solve the problem of racial inequality, we should start from the two aspects of transforming the concept of minority values and effectively improving the economic status of ethnic minorities.
It is expected to ease in the short term, but conflict is inevitable?
Shortly after Biden won the U.S. election, Newsweek said that the U.S.-China relationship could never return to the past.
“On the U.S.-China relationship, Biden’s biggest challenge right now is how to deal with the mess left by Trump.” Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Relations of Fudan University, told the Beijing News that Trump has launched strategic competition with China in recent years and moved towards a strategic confrontation, causing the most serious damage to U.S.-China relations in more than 40 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations.
At the beginning of Trump’s administration, the relationship between the United States and China was still stable. But since mid-2018, Trump launched censorship and sanctions against ZTE.
In December 2018, at the instigation of the United States, Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, and the relationship between the United States and China reached an impasse.
Since then, the game between the United States and China has intensified in Hong Kong’s national security legislation, South China Sea sovereignty, Taiwan issue and other aspects. The Trump administration has introduced a series of policy measures against the Chinese government.
Even as he leaves office, the Trump administration is constantly suppressing China, which many call the “last madness”.
So, how will Biden adjust his strategy towards China?
Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that after the new U.S. government takes office, the relationship between the United States and China may ease in the short term, and the pressure on China may also ease, because Biden’s style is relatively moderate, and his policies as a establishment politician are more predictable.
For example, the Biden administration may gradually resume official exchanges between the United States and China and cooperate with China on climate change, the fight against the epidemic and other issues.” But the U.S.-China relationship will not go back to the past, because time and space have changed, and the U.S. political circles have basically reached a consensus on China.
The Biden administration also calls China’s largest strategic competitor of the United States.”
Moreover, many problems between the United States and China are still difficult.
“There are many executive orders related to China issued during the Trump period. Biden certainly cannot overthrow them all of them soon. He may not have the will and energy to do this, mainly busy solving domestic problems.
In addition, Biden still regards China as his biggest competitor, which determines that he will not be too gentle to China. In addition, Biden may increase pressure on China on issues such as democracy, freedom and human rights, including Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan issues. Yuan Zheng said.
In Wu Xinbo’s view, Biden’s new government’s China policy will have three characteristics. First of all, Biden may inherit the tone of the Trump era on China, because it has almost become part of the “political correctness” of American society, but unlike the Trump era, the Biden administration will also carry out necessary cooperation with China, such as climate change issues, global public health issues, and Iran nuclear questions. Questions and so on.
Second, the Biden administration will be less confrontational and conflicty than in the Trump era. The Trump administration was almost completely out of control in the later period.
It was an irrational attitude to deal with China, so it moved from competition to confrontation and conflict. When the Biden administration came to power, it would avoid such measures as much as possible.
Finally, the diplomatic team of the Biden administration is an establishment official, a professional diplomat with rich diplomatic experience, most of whom have more contacts with China during the Obama era, including Biden himself. Therefore, they will pay more attention to communication with China, which means that the stability and predictability of bilateral relations will be improved.
Yuan Zheng said that the relationship between the United States and China may ease in the short term, but in the long run, it will be more complicated.
Because China’s rise is inevitable, and competition with the United States is inevitable, both sides may be more vigilant. Biden’s four-year term basically overlaps with China’s “14th Five-Year Plan”. How to develop U.S.-China relations during this period, it will play a very critical role in the future trend of U.S.-China relations.
It depends on whether the United States can gradually accept the fact that China’s rise and live in harmony with China for mutual benefit and win-win results. If not handled well, the uncertainty between the United States and China will intensify, and even the possibility of war will not be ruled out.
Wu Xinbo also believes that the future trend of U.S.-China relations needs to be closely monitored.
If the two sides go into vicious competition, because of the out-of-control confrontation and conflict, a new cold war may break out.” Now it depends on the window of opportunity for mitigation and adjustment provided by Biden to come to power.
Whether the two sides can cooperate effectively and control differences at the same time is a test for both the United States and China.
Reduce trade frictions and let allies follow the United States?
After the riots on Capitol Hill, Trump became “lone” overnight and the first president in American history to be impeached twice. In fact, after four years of his “tossing and turning”, the United States has almost become a “lonesome”.
During his tenure, Trump promoted unilateralism and the United States first, neglected allies and even suppressed allies.
In Europe, Trump has repeatedly attacked NATO, calling the EU “enemy”, scolding German Chancellor Merkel as “stupid” and engaging in a trade war with France, offending traditional allies completely.
In East Asia, Trump pressured Japan and South Korea to increase defense costs, withdrawing from the TPP to demand that the trade agreement be reopened and the trans-Pacific partnership.
It is overshadowed; at home, Trump withdrew from the North American Free Trade Agreement and pressured Canada and Mexico to re-sign the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, fully reflecting the position of “America first”.
Former Speaker of the European Parliament Pat Cox wrote that Europe was perhaps the most “betrayal” suffered during Trump’s presidency, and the Euro-Atlantic relationship deteriorated to unprecedented levels.
What will Biden do with his broken allies when he takes office?
“He may start from these aspects, such as reducing trade frictions with allies and no longer engaging in sanctions and trade wars. On the issue of military cost-sharing, he may deal with it in a more relaxed way, not as tough as Trump.” Wu Xinbo said.
In addition, Biden will try to let allies follow the United States.
Wu Xinbo believes that Biden will bring allies together against China in terms of trade, science and technology, finance, digital economy, WTO reform and other aspects, which can also allow allies to share more responsibilities and contribute more efforts, such as requiring NATO countries to increase military spending in terms of security.
Yuan Zheng pointed out that during Trump’s tenure, he made America’s allies very tense.
He advocated American priority and unilateralism that only emphasized his own interests and completely ignored allies. On the one hand, it is his personal cognitive problem, on the other hand, it is actually catering to the demands of domestic politics in the United States – because the rising trend of populism in the United States is obvious, and many people support Trump in the hope that he will do these actions.
After Biden came to power, he faced the relative weakness of the United States, so he would place more emphasis on cooperation among allies. But it will not change the practice of making allies more obligations, but it will be more clever and gentle in a way to solve the problem through negotiation and dialogue.
When encountering major problems, Biden may pay more attention to communicating with allies in advance and announcing relevant decisions after reaching agreement, which can also ease the relationship with allies.
Biden has made it clear that he wants to restore close allies with Europe and the Pacific-Indian Ocean region, but many analysts believe that the United States can no longer completely repair damaged European and American relations.
In addition, Europe has been emphasizing independence in recent years.
French President Macron has even called for the establishment of Europe’s own army many times, and it seems that he has lost confidence in the United States.
“After Trump’s tossing, Europeans’ trust in the United States has been severely weakened, and the transatlantic partnership is unlikely to go back to the past,” Wu Xinbo pointed out.
In general, Europe is facing an era of multipolarity, not an era of unipolarity and revolve around the United States. In the long run, Europe still needs to strengthen its strategic autonomy.
Although transatlantic relations will recover and contradictions and frictions will be reduced, it is unlikely to return to the Obama-era state, because the United States has changed, Europe has changed, and the whole world has changed.”
Yuan Zheng believes that although Europeans are very dissatisfied with the Trump administration, they and the United States still recognize each other in terms of value concepts.
European countries still have great expectations for the upcoming Biden administration, hoping that Europe and the United States can continue to cooperate and maintain harmonious transatlantic relations.” In recent years, many emerging countries have risen, but the influence and comprehensive strength of the United States are still far ahead.
Therefore, in the current global context, I don’t think the relationship between the United States and Europe can be subjectively diluted.
But Europe will not follow the United States as it used to, but seek economic and trade cooperation with other countries.
Abandon “America First” and “join the group” again?
On November 24, 2020, local time, Biden said “America is back” and “America is ready to lead the world again” when introducing his foreign policy and national security team in Wilmington, Delaware, and said that he would abandon the unilateralism and “America first” policies of the Trump era.
This statement is in sharp contrast to Trump’s “retreat” model.
On the first day of his official entry into the White House, Trump signed an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) on the grounds that the agreement harmed American manufacturing.
Since then, Trump has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement on the grounds of “injustice to the United States”, UNESCO and the United Nations Human Rights Council on the grounds of “biased against Israel”, the Iran nuclear agreement on the grounds that Iran has not fulfilled its obligations, and the INF Treaty and the The Treaty of Laying the Sky, withdrew from the Universal Postal Union on the grounds that it was not in the interest of the United States.
As the coronavirus pandemic raged the United States, Trump also withdrew from the World Health Organization, which led the global fight against the epidemic.
Richard Haas, chairman of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote in the Washington Post that Trump’s foreign policy can be directly named “exitism”.
Yuan Zheng told the Beijing News that the Trump administration has always given absolute priority to the interests of the United States, and unilateralism and protectionism are very strong.
As long as you feel that it is not in the interest of the United States, you will withdraw from the group, regardless of international obligations or even the views of other allies.
As a veteran American politician, Biden will obviously take a different path.
He repeatedly stated that “America is back” and criticized Trump’s withdrawal from the group and addiction.
Biden-nominated Secretary of State Blinkin also stressed that the United States will strengthen cooperation with other countries.
But can Biden add all the “groups” Trump withdrew from?
Yuan Zheng said that Biden and the team both support multilateral cooperation, emphasizing relationships with allies and partners, and advocating a leading role in global governance.
Political legacy of the Obama era, such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, will definitely rejoin; the WHO is withdrawing, Biden may stop withdrawing and propose a reform plan; Biden will also rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council because he attaches great importance to the promotion of ideology and values. On the issue of the WTO, although the United States has not withdrawn, it has basically paralyzed the WTO.
After Biden takes office, he may unite with Western allies to launch a WTO reform plan. In terms of arms control, Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty and the Open Sky Treaty. After Biden comes to power, he should renegotiate with Russia to seek a more stable and balanced situation.
Wu Xinbo also said that one of the most important changes in Biden’s foreign strategy after taking office was the return from unilateralism to multilateralism. There are some “groups” who have made it clear that he will rejoin immediately after taking office, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran Nuclear Agreement, etc.; the WHO has not completely withdrawn, and Biden is likely to stop the withdrawal process.
There are also organizations that may be affected by political influence and have difficulty returning quickly.” For example, the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement), Biden may want to join, but the domestic protectionist sentiment in the United States remains strong; UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Universal Postal Union, etc., Biden may rejoin, but may not be a priority.”
Wu Xinbo pointed out that the Trump administration’s frequent “retreat” not only has an impact on the reputation and global influence of the United States, but also has a negative impact on international mechanisms and global governance.
Therefore, Biden’s return to multilateralism is beneficial to the normal operation of international mechanisms and the promotion of global governance.
“For example, in addressing climate change, the United States is a major emitter, and its withdrawal has seriously weakened the effectiveness of the Paris Climate Agreement.
There is also the Iran nuclear agreement, which will basically fail to operate smoothly after the withdrawal of the United States. Biden’s re-grouping is conducive to the normal functioning of these international mechanisms and international organizations, and also conducive to promoting the resolution of some international problems.
In fact, after Biden confirmed his presidency, United Nations Secretary-General Guterres, WHO Director-General Tedros Tedros, UNESCO Director-General Azule and others congratulated him and expressed their expectation of “cooperation” with his government.
However, experts believe that it remains to be seen whether Biden will play the role of the United States in global affairs as promised.