Biden’s quips and military bases make the thaw of U.S.-China ties
The administration insists that diplomacy is the only way to maintain the relationship between the world’s foremost powers. However, Biden’s quips and military bases make the thaw of U.S.-China ties more difficult.
Despite the fact that the Biden administration does not wish for this to occur, relationships between the United States and China could be ruined by secret military installations and loose lips.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to China this past weekend to repair the damage caused by a Chinese spy balloon. However, the public disclosure that China was in talks with Cuba to establish a joint military training base on the island nation 100 miles from the coast of Florida quickly overshadowed that diplomatic advancement.
After that, hours later, President Joe Biden said that Xi Imping’s order to shoot down the balloon was “a great embarrassment for dictators” like him, angering China with his description of its leader.
Biden’s search for amicable ways to coexist with China as both compete ferociously across the globe is complicated by the fact that the relationship between the world’s two foremost powers is teetering again after showing brief signs of stability.
After Blinken’s meeting with Xi in Beijing, it appeared that there was a way to get things back on track.
Practically the second Blinken set foot on the withdrawing plane, U.S. authorities started to drift subsequent stages, which would incorporate a Biden-Xi call and, in the end, a gathering to follow their experience the previous fall in Bali, Indonesia. According to officials, the following options are currently being considered: a face-to-face discussion at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering in San Francisco two months later or on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in New Delhi in September.
These plans are no longer certain.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the China-Cuba military base near the American homeland might be used to house Beijing’s forces. Beth Sanner, who was formerly the deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, stated that “having Chinese troops in Cuba is something different.” Although joint training is not entirely provocative, the United States frequently conducts drills with partners close to the territory of an adversary, including placing American forces in Taiwan.
Sanner went on to say, “We have planes that are conducting surveillance right along the Chinese coast, so of course they want the same capability near the United States.” Since they are unable to fly equivalent EC-135s, their only real option is something similar to Cuba, so they are going to pursue that. That is a part of the espionage world.
Then Biden committed the most serious political error: being overly honest.
Biden addressed the crowd at a fundraiser on Tuesday in California, “The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment is because he didn’t know it was there.” He continued, “When they didn’t know what happened, that’s a great embarrassment for dictators.”
Not only did Biden use the d-word, but he also appeared to reveal embarrassingly private information that the United States had gathered about Xi’s ignorance of the balloon’s flight.
Beijing’s response was fierce. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning described Biden’s remarks as “extremely absurd and irresponsible, seriously contradicting the basic facts.” Mao proceeded to blame Biden for “genuinely abusing discretionary convention and truly encroaching on China’s political respect, which is an open political incitement.” He went on to say that his government was “strongly dissatisfied.”
White House staff members did not immediately provide a public response to Biden’s remarks, though some of them privately and cautiously noted that many politicians have a tendency to speak too comfortably in front of a supportive group of donors.
A senior administration official stated, “It should come as no surprise that the president speaks candidly about China and the differences that we have.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Biden spoke more openly than he had intended to or if he intended to repeat it later on the campaign trail. Biden referred to Xi as a “thug” during his 2020 campaign. Biden added that China’s leader does not possess a “democratic bone” in his body two months into his presidency.
Although the Blinken visit was billed as a means of maintaining open lines of communication during a turbulent period, the most recent broadside comes at an inopportune time for efforts to ease tensions with Beijing.
Beijing didn’t seem to be interested for months. And, surprisingly, after the slight defrost lately, the two countries’ militaries have not restored lines of correspondence, stressing American authorities who highlight two ongoing near calamities and dread heightening. However, officials from the United States point out that China’s sluggish economy has compelled Beijing to extend a warm welcome to American businesses, as evidenced by the fact that Bill Gates recently paid a visit. Additionally, Xi’s government has been eager to host officials such as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Particularly, Yellen has been one of the most outspoken advocates for strengthening ties between the United States and China.
She stated this month, “I think we gain and China gains from as open trade and investment as possible, and it would be disastrous for us to attempt to decouple from China.”
In order to prevent the relationship from spiraling out of control, a senior administration official insisted that dialogue remains the preferred strategy.
“The best way to manage any intense competition, including this one, is through equally intense diplomacy. When tensions are so high, it would be completely irresponsible of us to shut down and punish China. Given the stakes, that’s just diplomatic malpractice,” said the official, who, like others, requested anonymity to discuss private internal thoughts.
Countries with confidence face the problem set. They get it fixed. The official clarified, “They don’t run away from it.”
Senior fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation think tank Mark Hannah suggested that Biden’s framing of “global politics as democracy versus autocracies” was not helpful in easing tensions between Washington and Beijing and that “Xi defies easy characterization and the breezy terminology of politics today.”
Hannah stated, “Both countries need to punch up the language of cooperation.” Beijing will begin to follow suit if the Biden administration spreads that message.
However, critics are concerned that the administration will end up talking just for the sake of talking because of China’s recent consideration to deploy troops to Cuba and the strong response to Biden’s remarks.
According to Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), China “is the only party seeking to upend the peaceful status quo, and prioritizing endless dialogue over competitive policies invites aggression.” chairman of the House Committee on China.
The central tenet of Biden’s foreign policy theory is that this decade will determine whether autocracies or democracies win a geopolitical battle. His officials acknowledge that competition and cooperation will always encounter difficulties. However, the objective is to maintain boundaries to ensure that the troubled relationship between Washington and Beijing does not veer off course.
Now, the question is whether those barriers are sturdy enough to withstand the strain of these most recent setbacks.
“Intense strategic competition underpins diplomatic efforts by the United States toward China. Jacob Stokes, senior fellow for Indo-Pacific issues at the Center for a New American Security, stated, “That’s the framing we’re pushing.” Diplomacy shouldn’t be derailed by each new revelation that supports that assessment.