Let me explain what Biden’s foreign policy on China will be like

Let me explain what Biden's foreign policy on China will be like

Many hope to take advantage of the "senile naivety" of the new president. They think he will favor soft power, big speeches and prophetic visions about the future of the world, that is, gossip, like Obama. Such hopes will be dashed by Biden. That's why according to General Carlo Jean

Joe Biden's victory was greeted with considerable relief by a large part of European public opinion, especially for the ouster of Donald Trump from the White House. With his intemperance, unpredictability and arrogance he had made himself disliked even by the traditional allies of the USA. Little, if any, enthusiasm has been shown by Trump's favorite countries, such as Brazil, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Russia and China were also extremely secretive. Putin and Xi Jinping belatedly congratulated him on his victory.

It is difficult to predict Biden's foreign policy in detail. However, it will be marked by a continuity with the past. Geopolitics does not change with the preferences of a president. A more reliable prediction can only be made when the composition of the presidential team is known. However, it appears that many of the new president's main collaborators will be chosen from among those of Barack Obama. For the most enthusiastic about Trump's defeat, the new president will promote a new era of international relations or even a return to the "good old days" of an international order based on cooperation and rules respected by all, in which the US would return to be the "gendarmes" the "economic locomotive" of the world. I think it is impossible. The global balance of forces has changed profoundly. The center of gravity of power has shifted from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. The "unipolar moment" that had been characterized by the American hegemony accepted by all is over forever.

Not only has liberal globalization failed, but also Trump's attempt to restore American centrality with threats and the use of the economic and financial weapon. The illusion, propagated especially by Robert Zoellick at the beginning of the century, about the possibility of a global and permanent agreement between the USA and China ("Chimerica" ​​- China and America), also called G-2, has also disappeared. to regulate the new world order. Instead, a second "cold war" has broken out between the US and China. The main challenge facing Biden is to define the US strategy to overcome it. Today it is missing in Washington. Instead, it exists in Beijing.

Trump's strategy of direct and unilateral countering of China, while achieving some tactical successes, has shown its limits. Washington cannot face Beijing alone, given the integration of the world economy and the support that the Chinese economy and technology receive from the Party. The latter has long understood that technology (and the control of key raw materials, (such as "rare earths") is the essential tool of power and influence. Beijing supports its development both financially and through espionage. Some of Trump's "adrenaline surges" have caused substantial economic losses to US allies, making them less willing to accept their impositions on the control of critical technologies, crucial in the new world competition. The military component of the Second Cold War does not represent a central element. , as it had been in the first. Trump's threats turned out to be blunt weapons. They were unable, if not marginally, to impose Washington's will on its allies. They were a little like the "red lines" of Obama, which were violated without anything happening, with serious damage to American prestige.

In the ideological or soft power conflict between the Washington Consensus and the Beijing Consensus, the latter has strengthened following Chinese aid to counter the "coronavirus" pandemic, originating in China itself . It would then be further consolidated with the RCEP ( Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), in which the USA does not participate. The latter have withdrawn from the TPP (TransPacific Partnership ), which they had promoted with Obama. Instead, it excluded China and aimed to alleviate the growing economic dependence of both Asian and South American Pacific countries on Beijing . The RCEP brings together 15 Asian countries (but India is not part of it) and represents the largest trade agreement in the world. It involves a third of both the population and world GDP, the latter destined to grow by 50% in the next twenty years. Some doubt that it really strengthens Beijing. In fact, it limits itself to absorbing dozens of bilateral and trilateral agreements already in place. The countries that would benefit most are Japan and South Korea, not China. However, it has restricted the possibilities of economic and, therefore, strategic influence of the US, which only has to strengthen its ties with India and strategic ties with Japan, South Korea and Australia.

However, in his strategy of political, economic and strategic containment of China, Biden must not block the possibility of collaboration with Beijing in areas of common interest, such as climate change, pandemics, world hunger and arms control measures. , aimed at avoiding the outbreak of a war by mistake or by uncontrolled escalation in Taiwan or in the South and East China Seas. To be realistic, this strategy – of which technology embargoes will be an essential component – will have to involve US allies. This is a rather difficult goal to achieve, given that there is no common European economic and technological policy towards China. The difficulties have increased with the economic crisis caused by Covid-19. It meant that China overtook the US in the second quarter of 2020 as the leading importer of German products.

Biden is aware of these difficulties. This is demonstrated by his announcement that he intends to organize a Global Summit for Democracy within 100 days of the Inauguration . G-7 members, India, South Korea and Australia would participate. The detailed objectives of this attempt to create a "League of Democracies" are not known, apart from the one declared to want to curb the democratic regression that has taken place in the world which, improperly, is attributed only to Trump. Some have tried to define them with a formula similar to that used in the Cold War " USSR out, Germany down and US in" : "block China; hold on to India; and strengthen American leadership in the world ”.

Many hope to take advantage of what they believe to be the senile "naivety" of the new president. They think he will favor soft power, big speeches and prophetic visions of the future of the world, that is, chatter, like Barack Obama, of whom he was deputy in his two presidential terms. They are confident that they can continue to serve their interests, taking American economic and strategic support for granted. In my opinion, such hopes will be disappointed by the new American president. Don't be fooled by his smiles and good words. In the past, he has proved to be a tough negotiator. He has a great deal of experience in foreign policy. It belongs to the generation that won the Cold War. It must then take into account the American political reality, in which the polarization on the extreme wings also concerns the Democratic Party in which the bipartisan consensus is increasingly difficult. He knows that American public opinion is strongly anti-Chinese and that it is no longer willing to engage in the world when its own interests are not at stake. Geopolitical and economic competition with China is likely to escalate. The one with Russia, in particular for the control of nuclear weapons, will also become tougher. Europeans, who were led to join forces in the face of Trump's pressure, will have greater difficulties in resisting the Bidens' requests, both in the field of contributing to common security and in economic and technological relations with Russia and China.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/politica-estera-joe-biden-carlo-jean/ on Sun, 22 Nov 2020 10:14:37 +0000.