[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Joseph Klein’s masterpiece contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
The Communist Chinese regime will do whatever President Xi Jinping believes is necessary to surpass the United States, which President Xi considers to be in decline. President Joe Biden is proving to be President Xi’s perfect patsy to help him achieve his grand ambitions.
President Biden remains under the dangerous delusion that China is merely a vigorous competitor, not the U.S.’s chief adversary that is determined to replace America as the world’s number one military, economic, and technological superpower. President Biden is on a fool’s mission to explore whether there are areas of mutual interest where the Chinese regime might be willing to genuinely cooperate with the United States. There are none. Nevertheless, in desperation he has sent so far three of his administration’s cabinet-level officials to China to restore fruitless dialogue with their high-level Chinese counterparts.
President Xi believes only in China First and views every issue through the lens of China’s national self-interest. This explains why his regime has had no problem welcoming U.S. business leaders to China with open arms, while not giving an inch to the Biden administration’s cabinet-level officials who recently visited China.
China needs American businesses’ investments, trade, and especially their technologies to help bolster its sagging economy. China loves doing business with American firms as long as these firms operate on China’s own terms, like submitting to state surveillance, handing over access to valuable intellectual property, and abiding by China’s censorship requirements. American companies interested solely in maximizing profits are only too happy to oblige.
China’s dealings with Biden administration officials are another matter entirely. President Xi has shown no respect for President Biden and that disrespect has filtered down to how Chinese officials treat their American counterparts.
For example, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu rejected holding a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this spring on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security forum. The Biden administration had hoped such a meeting between the two countries’ defense chiefs would lead to restoring military-to-military communications to reduce the possibility of unintended military conflict. But the reaction from the Chinese side was a rude snub.
The United States has good reason to be concerned about China’s military intentions. One of China’s jet fighters flew directly in front of an American surveillance plane flying in international airspace. One of China’s warships came within 150 yards of an American destroyer conducting a freedom-of-navigation exercise with Canada in international waters. In one of its typical lies, the Chinese regime blamed the United States for these near misses.
When Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to China in June and brought up the issue of military deconflicting, he got nowhere. His plea to keep the channels of communication open “to ensure competition does not veer into conflict” fell on deaf ears.
Secretary Blinken did not even succeed in getting China’s leaders to acknowledge, much less apologize, for China’s spy balloon escapade over the continental United States earlier this year, a clear invasion of U.S. sovereignty and national security. Why should they when President Biden said, shortly before Secretary Blinken’s arrival in China, that the spy balloon incursion was more “embarrassing” for China’s leadership “than it was intentional.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen fared a little better than Secretary Blinken during her subsequent trip to China and meetings with China’s top economic officials. Maybe that is because she bowed multiple times to Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng in some sort of sign of respect that was not reciprocated.
While there was a softer tone coming from Chinese leaders during Secretary Yellen’s visit than during Secretary Blinken’s visit, nothing of substance was accomplished. There was no movement from either side on trade, investment, or technology issues that have divided the United States and China.
Treasury Secretary Yellen tried to assure her hosts that the United States was not seeking to decouple its economy from China’s economy, which would be infeasible anyway given the huge amount of trade and financial interrelationships between the two countries. But China’s leadership was not swayed by Secretary Yellen’s bows or conciliatory words.
The Chinese regime wants relief from U.S. tariffs and from limits the Biden administration, to its credit, imposed on exports of the United States’ most advanced semiconductor technology. China has placed restrictions of its own on the export of two metals essential to the production of computer chips. China produces more than ninety percent of the global supply of one of these metals.
Treasury Secretary Yellen’s visit did nothing to ease any of these economic tensions. Her takeaway was to “expect that this trip will help build a resilient and productive channel of communication with China’s new economic team.” But dialogue as an end in itself accomplishes nothing other than to give the Chinese regime a platform to berate the United States.
President Biden’s climate czar John Kerry was the next cabinet-level Biden official to make the journey to China. The purpose of Kerry’s trip was to persuade the Communist regime to do more to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases, especially from its use of coal. He failed.
China is.by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and is continuing to build more coal-fired power plants than the rest of the world combined. The United States, while being the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, emits less than half as much greenhouse gases as China does today.
After three days of climate negotiations with senior Chinese government officials (but no meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who makes all the final major policy decisions), Kerry came away empty-handed.
All that John Kerry said he managed to accomplish was “having long and very detailed meetings with a lot to catch up on.“ In other words, more hot air was emitted into the atmosphere.
Mr. Kerry added that “we came here to break new ground … and it is clear that we are going to need a little more work to complete that task.”
While Kerry was failing to “break new ground” with President Xi’s subordinates on climate change policies, President Xi put a total damper on the discussions.
Xi told a national conference on environmental protection that China will tackle climate change in its own way. China, he said, will reach its announced goals via a “path, method, pace and intensity…determined by ourselves and will never be influenced by others.”
The U.S. climate czar chose not to argue the point.
What are China’s goals? They allow China to keep increasing its carbon emissions until 2030, which would supposedly be the peak year after which China’s carbon emissions would finally start to decline. China would have until 2060 to reach carbon neutrality (net zero greenhouse gas emissions), ten years later than the Biden administration has set as the deadline for the United States.
China’s dependency on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is rising dramatically. The Communist regime is rapidly adding new coal-fired plants. More than many countries that mine coal, the Chinese are also mining coal underground, which releases excessive amounts of methane. Methane “is a much more potent greenhouse gas” than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming impact, according to the International Energy Agency.
As the New York Times reported, “The United States, which emits far less greenhouse gases than China, is headed in a different direction. It has not built a new coal-fired plant in a decade, while nearly halving its coal use and increasing natural gas use instead.”
The Communist Chinese regime is playing the Biden administration. China has the second largest economy in the world. It is a major nuclear power with highly advanced military capabilities, including the world’s largest navy. Nevertheless, China’s leaders insist that their country continue to be treated by the United Nations as a developing country that should be accorded more latitude in the time it takes to move away from fossil fuels than developed countries.
This travesty needs to end. But the gutless Biden administration is standing aside while China pretends to be a developing country in the eyes of the UN and other multilateral inter-governmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization. Accordingly, China continues to receive undeserved preferential treatment. Instead of turning a blind eye, President Biden should be demanding that the UN, the World Trade Organization, and other multilateral inter-governmental organizations start treating China as a developed country with grown-up responsibilities.
The Chinese regime points to China’s global leadership in the production of renewable energy products and the use of solar and wind power as evidence that it is taking the issue of climate change very seriously. But this is misleading. “China’s biggest wind and solar projects tend to be in sparsely populated western and northwestern regions,” the New York Times reported, “far from the provinces near the coast where most of the population lives and where many electricity-hungry companies are.”
Coal is still king in China and considered essential to the protection of China’s national energy security, not green energy.
In short, while paying lip service to combating climate change, the Chinese Communist regime is putting its national security and economic growth first. President Biden, on the other hand, has committed the United States to a left-wing progressive green energy agenda that will impose a huge economic burden on the American people through massive inflationary spending programs and oppressive regulations.
In sum, the Biden administration has grossly mishandled America’s relationship with its number one adversary, putting the American people’s security and economic welfare in significant jeopardy. Instead of exploiting all means of leverage over China from a position of strength, the Biden administration hopes to manage the Chinese regime’s “competition” with the United States while vainly seeking common ground on global issues like climate change.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu provides lessons useful to understanding the Communist Chinese regime’s modus operandi. The first lesson is that “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.” The second lesson is that “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
The Biden administration is falling into both traps, thereby handing the Chinese Communist regime too many gains at the expense of the American people.