What signal does the new U.S. government want to send to China’s relations?
Just the past day, senior officials or dignitary of the Biden administration continued to express their positions on China intensively after the past week. But the general reaction of international public opinion is that the more they say, the more confused the policy signal will be.
How to judge the falsehood of these China-related statements of the United States? Can we piece together the outline of the Biden administration’s China policy and find out what it wants to do?
Some American problem scholars sorted out these statements and found that they came from “three major channels”. Different channels also determine the nature of the relevant statement.
The press conference of Biden administration officials is the first channel for the outside world to observe Washington’s current policy preferences towards China, which is relatively official.
But from this channel alone, the signal is still very vague and even contradictory.
On the 27th, Eastern Time, Blinken officially took office on his first day. The U.S. media closely followed the news of the new Secretary of State’s first day of work.
In the morning, the welcoming ceremony prepared by the U.S. State Department was a little simple, because only about 30 employees were present, all wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Blinkin’s live speech was not short, but it didn’t attract much attention.
Some American media “condensed” the speech with only two words left: emphasizing the need for American leadership in the world; and promising to repair relationships with global partners.
Such content obviously does not interest the reporters.
In the afternoon, Blinkin appeared again. The media finally waited for more informative news: the new Secretary of State talked about relations with China for the first time.
It is no secret that the US-China relationship is arguably the most important relationship in the world in the future. At the first press conference as Secretary of State, Blinkin said, “The relationship has some confrontational aspects and competition, but there is also room for cooperation between the two sides.”
Although after being questioned by reporters, Lincoln once again agreed with the so-called “China’s genocide in Xinjiang”, some media still believe that the new Secretary of State officially expressed his position on China for the first time, and talked more about cooperation with Beijing than in the past.
Taking the joint response to climate change as an example, Blinken further explained that the United States and China are concerned about many of the same problems, and the two countries need to work to solve these problems.” I think and hope that we can pursue this, which is in line with our foreign policy in the broader context.”
Senior U.S. Chief Foreign Service, on formal occasions such as press conferences, stressed that cooperation with China on relevant issues is consistent with U.S. foreign policy… As soon as Blinkin’s statement came out, it immediately occupied the headlines of the United States and even some international media.
But this did not make the Biden administration’s China policy clear.
Also on the 27th, White House spokesman Pushaki also made a statement about China at a press conference, which was considered to have a stronger “mander flavor”.
Pushaki said that the Biden administration will protect the U.S. telecommunications network from external operators with national security threats, and also promised to work with allies to ensure each other’s network security.
More importantly, she directly named Huawei “threatening the national security of the United States”.
Some foreign media said that Pousaki’s words made the outside world understand how the Biden administration intends to treat the Chinese telecom supplier.
But can this statement alone judge the direction of the entire Biden administration’s China policy?
Obviously, it’s not that simple.
Not only did Burlincoln and Pousaki send out “complex” signals on the same day, but even the White House spokesman himself made remarks that made some people feel “some jumpy” in just a few days.
Just two days ago, also at a White House press conference, Pushaki said that the Biden administration was handling relations with China in a “patient” way.
At that time, this was thought to imply that the new government needed more time to reassess and trade off specific policies towards China. Including how to treat Huawei, it is still uncertain.
In addition to the press conference, the statement of key members of the Biden administration at the congressional nomination confirmation hearing is also a channel of information of external concern.
On the 27th, Thomas Greenfield appeared at the Senate nomination hearing. Not surprisingly, in the face of the bombing of congressmen around the China issue, the nominee for the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations made a rather tough statement on China.
She said that she would actively fight against China’s influence at the United Nations and challenge “China’s efforts to promote the dictatorship agenda in the United Nations”.
Someone reviewed Thomas Greenfield’s past resume and found that in October 2019, the senior U.S. diplomat also recognized China’s promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative in Africa in a speech.
More than two years later, this statement became a handle for several senators to question her. The representative-designate to the United Nations hastily sought compensation, saying that she “has no naive idea of what the Chinese people have done” and “often publicly condemns them.”
Earlier, on the 26th, U.S. Secretary of Commerce-designate Gina Raimondo’s China-related statement at the nomination confirmation hearing also became the focus of public opinion.
Like Thomas Greenfield and other important cabinet members of the Biden administration such as Brolincoln and Yellen, Raymondo was forced to be questioned by Cruz and other Republican senators.
This also became the epitome of the Republican hawks trying to kidnap the Biden administration’s China policy.
Asked how to compete with China, Raimondo immediately showed toughness:
The United States will “fight against unfair trade practices that weaken American manufacturing” in China and other countries. She also accused China of “dumping steel and aluminum on the U.S. market in violation of the principles of competition”.
But this can’t meet the requirements of Cruz.
The question became more specific, “Can you promise that Huawei will remain on the list?” However, Raimondo did not respond positively to this question, but said that she would “evaluate the relevant policies”.
Some media commented that the Secretary-designate of Commerce refused to promise to keep Huawei on the trade blacklist in the United States, which triggered a rebound from the United States against China’s hardliners. Cruz added that he hoped that the new Biden administration would not be “soft” to China.
The third channel is to talk to all levels of relevant allies so far.
On the 27th, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiro Kan talked with Biden on the phone. Similar to the diplomatic and security officials of the United States and Japan a few days ago, the two sides once again mentioned that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applies to the Diaoyu Islands.
Strengthening cooperation in the “Indo-Pacific” region is also interpreted as a strong meaning for China.
On the same day, Secretary of State Blinkincoln also mentioned China in his telephone conversation with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the Philippines.
According to the minutes of the call of the U.S. State Department, Lincoln emphasized to the French and German Foreign Ministers that “jointly meet China’s challenges”. But at least German Foreign Minister Mass did not fully agree with this “propion”. In a later interview, he said that it was not wise to decouple from China.
During the call with Philippine Foreign Minister Lotchin, Lincoln directly mentioned the South China Sea issue.
He said that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the South China Sea, claiming that the United States pledges to stand with those Southeast Asian countries that claim sovereignty “in the face of Chinese pressure”.
This statement is regarded by some American media as the clearest and strongest position of the Biden government on the South China Sea issue so far.
Can the intensive China-related statements of three channels piece together the general policy choices of the Biden administration towards China?
One American problem scholar believes that none of these signals is substantive or decisive.
At the congressional hearing, key members of the new government expressed their position on China that it is uncertain how much will be transformed into a governance measure in the future.
Those harsh words are largely addressed to the United States and more accurately to the Chinese hawks among members of Congress. In order to be appointed smoothly, the cabinet-designate will certainly take care of the anti-China sentiment in Congress.
It has no practical policy reference significance to talk to relevant countries to fight against China.
Strengthening the Democratic Alliance’s siege of China has been the background of the Biden administration’s long-public policy. In this regard, most Chinese people have long had no illusions.
Instead, the statement made at the official press conference like Blinken slightly revealed some real ideas of the new government on China.
After saying too much tough statements at congressional hearings, but after officially becoming Washington’s chief diplomat, Blinken released his willingness to “partial cooperation”, which is in line with his own and President Biden’s “balance” position on China so far.
It’s just that the Republican hawks are constantly urging the Biden government to remain tough on China in public. Such an environment is a constraint that makes the Biden administration afraid to make it easy to show goodwill to China.
Another incident happened on the 27th. The U.S. Treasury Department postponed the “ban on the investment of Chinese military-related enterprises”.
Last November, Trump issued an executive order prohibiting Americans from investing in so-called “military-related” Chinese enterprises on the Pentagon’s blacklist. The ban was supposed to take effect on January 28 this year, but the Biden administration announced on the 27th that it would postply its entry into force to May 27.
Be careful. Many scholars have used this word when talking about the Biden administration’s words and deeds on China-related issues so far.
Overall, it is tough on China, but it involves specific issues and actual policies in specific fields, and temporarily remains “ambiguously”. On the one hand, it is because the departments of the new government have not completed policy coordination, and the process will take at least two months.
On the other hand, it is also because both Biden and Lincoln are veterans of U.S. diplomacy. Unlike the “super tough” of many ideological diehards of the Trump administration, although the new government temporarily lacks an atmosphere to promote “limited cooperation” with China, it will also find ways to show “flexibility” and “pragmatism” in its relations with China in the future. The side of
The signals released by the new U.S. government are still messy. How should we judge?
Yesterday, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, said in an exclusive interview with CCTV that the policy of the new U.S. government towards China should “listen to its words and deeds”, see its falsehood and understand its intention.” We also need to take a look at some current trends.
Ambassador Cui said that it is a good thing that the Biden government is patient with China policy. “I hope that the United States can use this period to review and reflect on the policy towards China in recent years, find the crux of the problem, and adopt a positive, constructive, forward-looking policy towards China that is in line with the reality of today’s world. As for whether to be tough or not, this is a matter of attitude. We need to look at the essence of the policy.