20.07.2021 – 16:31
Optimists have long hoped that China’s welcome to the global economy would make it a “responsible stakeholder” and bring about political reform.
Stan Joe Biden is turning the Trump bomber into a doctrine that puts America against China, a war between rival political systems which, he says, can only have one winner.
Between them, Trump and Biden have created the most dramatic change in American foreign policy in the five decades since Richard Nixon went to China.
Biden and his team base their doctrine on the belief that China is “less interested in coexistence and more interested in domination.”
The task of American policy is to soften Chinese ambitions. America will work with China on areas of common interest, such as climate change, but opposes its ambitions elsewhere.
This means building strength in the country and working abroad with allies that can complement its economic, technological, diplomatic, military and moral part.
It makes a lot of sense for Biden’s new doctrine.
Led by President Xi Jinping, China has garrisoned the South China Sea, established party rule in Hong Kong, threatened Taiwan, clashed with India, and sought to overthrow Western values in international bodies.
Many countries have been alarmed by China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy.
But the details of Biden’s doctrine contain much to worry about – no less than it is unlikely to work.
One problem is how Biden defines threat
The more Biden uses harsh rhetoric to galvanize Americans, the more difficult he makes his task of galvanizing allies and major emerging powers like India and Indonesia. Framing relations as a race with many zeros, he is presenting to them a manic struggle between democracy and autocracy, rather than the quest for coexistence.
Sadly, in doing so he is overestimating America’s influence and underestimating how much potential allies should lose by turning their backs on China.
With many economic measures China will become a dominant force, whatever America does.
It will have the largest economy in the world and is already the largest trading partner of almost twice as many countries as America. Germany, Europe’s export powerhouse, aims to maintain trade ties with China even when political ties are strained.
In Southeast Asia many countries turn to America for their security and China for their prosperity.
If forced to choose between superpowers, some may choose China.
Instead of imposing a decision on other countries today, Biden should win them.
And his best chance for that is for America to demonstrate that it can thrive in the country and be the leader of a successful and open world economy.
Here, too, the details of Biden’s scheme are disturbing.
its doctrine is full of industrial policy, government intervention, planning and controls.
Crucial to his attack on China is its human rights abuses, particularly of the Uighurs, subject to internment and forced labor in Xinjiang. Central to his climate change policy is a shift to renewable resources.
However, the two are confused, at least in the short term, because Xinjiang is the origin of 45% of the silicon used in solar power generation.
A more fundamental problem is the mild protectionism of China doctrine.
It favors incumbents over competitors and is likely to hurt the economy rather than overload it.
A third problem is that Biden’s doctrine will make America’s allies even more cautious.
If the purpose of severing ties with China is to create good union countries in America, the Allies will wonder what could happen to them.
Biden’s plan is a missed opportunity.
If America wants to stop China from rebuilding the global order in its image, it must defend the kind of globalization that has always served it well.
If America really wanted to oppose China in Asia, it would join the pan-Asian trade agreement from which it withdrew in 2016.
This is very difficult right now, but it may require new agreements for the environment and digital commerce. It must also put forward and influence new ideas that strengthen the Western order, such as a vaccine program for future pandemics, digital payment systems, cybersecurity and an infrastructure scheme to compete with the New Silk Road. .
Instead of copying China’s techno-nationalism, a more confident America should affirm what made the West strong.
Translated and adapted by The Economist / konica.al