Bill of Indictment

In a piece in New York Magazine Andrew Sullivan produces a lengthy bill of indictment against the People’s Republic of China. I encourage you to read it in full.

He concludes with a plea to defeat Donald Trump’s re-election bid so Joe Biden can tell us what to do. Okay, I’ll bite. What do you think that President Biden would do? Recently his rhetoric has been if anything harsher than Donald Trump’s. On the other hand the foreign policy establishment is undoubtedly longing for a return to the neoliberal fantasies that have dominated U. S. foreign policy with respect to China for the last 40 years. On the third hand the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as exemplified by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tends to be generally disinterested in foreign policy and, to the extent that it is interested, is inclined to lean on international institutions.

My guess is that will be the policy of a hypothetical Biden Administration. He’ll speak loudly and wield no stick, preferring to hope that “like-minded democracies” (are there any like-minded democracies?) will do the heavy lifting for us. That has never been true in the past but hope springs eternal.

My own view is that a China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party cannot be trusted as a trading partner or on anything else and will be focused, as Bill Clinton might have said, like a laser on holding on to power while extending China’s influence. Their zero sum view of trade and foreign policy more generally means to them that victory means our losing.

5 comments… add one
  • TarsTarkas Link

    Joe Biden actually be hard on China? After that 1.5 billion sweetheart deal Hunter got? I have a better chance of becoming President of the USA than that.

    Joe Biden’s handlers are quite happy with the Han Empire eating our lunch, dinner, breakfast, and snacks as long as they get a decent amount of table scraps fill their bank account. They’d find out soon enough that Xi is a clean plate person, but that’ll be too late for us. Xi is China’s Josef Stalin, the world’s worst mass slaughterer, except he’s much more expansionist than Uncle Joe was until after WWII.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    I still hold to my belief that unless Biden actually says some policy from the Obama administration was wrong and Biden will take a different course; what occurred during the Obama administration is the initial preferred policy.

    What was the Obama administration’s policy towards China?

  • Andy Link

    While I understand the campaigning is different from governing, I do think it’s relevant that Biden’s campaign website has very little when it comes to trade and foreign policy. Clearly his campaign believes those aren’t important to winning the election.

    Not that Trump is doing very well on trade either, despite his rhetoric. As always, everything revolves around his perception of what’s best for him. He does, at least, deserve credit for bringing a discussion about China to the table.

  • steve Link

    Does Trump’s campaign site have much on trade? Cant find it but maybe looking wrong place.

    I expect Biden to spend less time trying to force China to do stuff and more time getting groups of other countries to work together to address China. I dont know that will work, but I suspect that absent any such agreements US businesses wont want to leave China for fear of missing out on that large market.


  • wont want to leave China for fear of missing out on that large market

    That has been the dream for the last 40 years but, alas, it’s an illusion. Markets are defined by the ability to make purchasing decisions as well as in dollars and China’s reality is that dealing with China is more like dealing with a relatively small number of very rich buyers (who don’t want to buy from you) than it is like dealing with a country of more than a billion prospective customers.

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