With the Biden China team pretty much in place and the first face-to-face skirmish with China over…and with China’s thumbing its nose at America and its allies in ever new and changing ways, we’ve entered a new and fast-moving phase of the U.S.-China relationship.
- The number of issues that are and will be in play for Biden & China is staggering. Here are a few: trade & Taiwan; semiconductors & the South China Sea; industrial policy & the India-China Border; AI & alliances; and on and on.
- Not only will keeping up be tough, so will understanding what’s behind each move and countermove.
Enter the ‘Biden China Tracker’ that will analyze these from both sides as they happen.
Today is the Tracker’s first issue.
- Covered here are two events where China went all 'Wolf Warrior' first on the U.S. and then on the EU.
Neither is objectively significant.
The first is a meeting, in Anchorage, between the U.S. and China since President Biden took office that resolved nothing but kicked off with some pointed comments by each side about the other’s shortcomings.
The second is China’s slapping disproportionate retaliatory sanctions on the EU for joining with the U.S., UK, and Canada in imposing carefully calibrated sanctions against four Chinese officials said to be part of the Uighur suppression (or genocide, if you wish).
Subjectively these two events couldn’t be more significant.
Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group nicely summarizes the import of the U.S.-China meeting:
- ‘Biden and the Biden administration have been talking about China and operating largely in a vacuum over the first 50 days. That’s made it very easy to talk up how tough they're going to be on China.’
- ‘Now they've actually engaged with China in Anchorage, and the Chinese government is having none of it.’
- ‘They have shown that they don't need to be talked down to by a group of American exceptionalists, that they believe their system is every bit as valid as legitimate as America’s. And the Americans don't believe that.
- ‘So that's pretty core, it's pretty fundamental.’
- And But at least each side knows, without doubt, what the other side thinks of it.
As for the Chinese sanctions on the EU, if you found Yang Jiechi’s dressing down of the U.S. in Anchorage a little startling, wait until you read the comments (in the post below) on the mutual sanctions from China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Here’s a taste:
- ‘The Chinese side urges the EU side to reflect on itself, face squarely the severity of its mistake and redress it.’
- ‘It must stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs.’
- ‘It must end the hypocritical practice of double standards and stop going further down the wrong path.’
- ‘Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions.’
- [Pro Tip: If your corporate or investment strategy in any way depends on the EU’s ratifying “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment” with China, it’s time to revise your strategy.]
China must have weighed the satisfaction of berating and threatening the EU against the likelihood of its actions breaking down the EU’s reluctance to join further coalitions to confront China – and decided it was worth it.
In any case, these two events have allowed the U.S. and China to stake out their fundamental positions and strategies.
- Maybe these two aren’t implacable adversaries, but then again maybe they are.
In the last section of the 'Biden China Tracker' is a nifty chart + links to short bios of the Biden China team.
- With the confirmation of Katherine Tai as USTR, the chart is just about complete. Check it out.
Now please read today's ‘Biden China Tracker,’and let me know if the insights in it are helpful. Thanks!