His China policy is looking even tougher than Donald Trump’s
Article from the Economist in WASHINGTON, DC - July 17th 2021
AMERICA MUST focus on “blunting Chinese power and order and building the foundations for US power and order”. That, at least, is the message of a recent book by Rush Doshi, until recently a scholar at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington, DC. “The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order” argues that China has worked for years to undermine America’s geopolitical dominance and shape a more illiberal world order that better protects and serves China’s interests. It concludes that these efforts need to be repaid in kind.
This is a striking rebuke to decades of American foreign-policy thinking focused on “engagement” with China. The rebuke gains extra weight from the fact that Mr Doshi is now a China director on President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, where he works under Kurt Campbell, his mentor and a leading architect of the administration’s China strategy.
Engagement was already on its uppers. Donald Trump had replaced it with something more belligerent and capricious. Many hoped that Mr Biden would bring some order to the chaos and lay down rules for a return to some sort of engagement, albeit on less friendly terms than those practised by the Obama administration in which he served. But although Mr Biden’s administration is indeed forgoing the caprice and wilfulness of his predecessor, in other respects it is toughening policy, assiduously building a strategic framework for countering and checking China’s rise.
Unlike Mr Trump, Mr Biden seems sincerely worried about a world in which China’s authoritarian model wins. That makes him more serious about the policies implemented, often haphazardly, by the hawks who served in the previous administration. In its first six months Mr Biden’s administration has, to the surprise of many, officially affirmed the label of “genocide” applied by the last administration to atrocities in Xinjiang, and also worked with allies to impose further sanctions on the perpetrators. It has kept in place and refined Mr Trump’s prohibitions on doing business with Huawei and a long list of technology companies and military-affiliated businesses (see chart 1). It has made countering China a priority in talks with allies around the world, and shown no urgency to hold a summit with Xi Jinping, China’s president.
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