Biden China Tracker

by Malcolm Riddell

Biden Starts Infrastructure
3

How Does the U.S. Compare to China?

Bloomberg

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April 2, 2021
How Does the U.S. Compare to China?
How Does the U.S. Compare to China?
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Biden Starts Infrastructure

3

We all know generally speaking that China’s infrastructure is better than the U.S.’s.

The first thing to note: ‘It’s difficult to directly compare spending in the two countries, as much of China’s outlays are tied to accommodating the millions of rural residents who move to cities for the first time each year.'

  • 'China’s economic output per capita is about a sixth of U.S. levels, and in many cases the country is for the first time building infrastructure like urban apartments, water treatment systems and airports that the U.S. has had for generations.'
  • ' “China is a developing country and the area for investment in infrastructure is larger than in a developed country,” said Justin Lin, a former chief economist at the World Bank who also advises China’s government. “In the U.S. they have the infrastructure, but it might be old and needs to be improved. So the scope for investment in high-income countries is lower.” '  

‘While the top-line for Biden’s American Jobs Plan is $2.25 trillion, China’s government and private companies pour the equivalent of trillions of dollars each year into new infrastructure ranging from transport to communications networks, water projects to manufacturing.’

  • ‘If spread evenly over the eight-year timeframe, Biden’s plan would be a little over $280 billion a year.’
  • ‘By comparison, in China, just one source of public funds used mainly for infrastructure investment -- local government “special” bonds -- will total 65 trillion yuan ($556 billion) this year.’

‘While U.S. officials have been promising an approaching “infrastructure week” since the early days of the Trump administration, China has been plowing ahead for years.’

  • ‘In February, Xi’s government set out a 15-year plan for the country’s transportation network.’
  • ‘It pledges to extend China’s rail network from 146,300 kilometers (91,000 miles) in 2020 to about 200,000 kilometers by 2035 -- enough to circle the equator more than five times.’
  • ‘The plan also calls for adding 162 new civilian airports, after Beijing’s new $11 billion international airport opened last year. (The U.S. has built just one major airport -- Denver international -- since the mid-1990s.)’

‘In the case of high-speed rail, President Barack Obama vowed to bet big on high-speed rail as a tool to help the U.S. emerge from the 2008 financial crisis.’

  • ‘He spoke frequently in his first term about developing a rail network that could grow to rival the interstate highway system and included $8 billion in his 2009 economic stimulus package for high-speed rail lines.’
  • ‘But Republican governors in states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida rejected the money, and a decade later a line in California that most of the rejected money was funneled to is still only in its early stages.’

‘In contrast, China’s high-speed rail network was almost 38,000 kilometers last year.'

  • ‘Building is also cheaper in China, so the spending goes further.’
  • ‘For example, the construction cost of the Chinese high-speed rail network is about two-thirds of the cost in other countries, according to a 2019 World Bank study.’

‘But the World Bank estimated in 2019 that only one-sixth of China’s high-speed rail lines made enough money to cover their operating costs and service the construction debts.’

  • ‘That problem is likely to increase with the plan to build even more, as the newer lines will be mostly in poorer and less densely-populated parts of the country where there’s less demand.’

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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Biden Doctrine
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The Biden Doctrine and Its Discontents

President Biden has framed China as a threat both to the U.S. and the liberal world order.
7/15/2021

The Economist

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Biden Doctrine
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'What's Wrong with Biden’s new China doctrine'

‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
7/15/2021

The Economist

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Biden Doctrine
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Part 2 | Joe Biden is determined that China should not displace America

‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
7/15/2021

The Economist

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Biden Doctrine
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Part 1 | 'Joe Biden is determined that China should not displace America'

‘Biden’s emerging China strategy, while still protean, sounds of a kind with Mr Doshi’s prescription for “blunting and building”.’
7/15/2021

Center for Strategic and International Studies

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Pierre Morcos | Center for Strategic and International Studies
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G7 to D10
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'NATO & China's Challenges to Europe'

‘Even though China does not pose a direct military threat to NATO, contrary to Russia or terrorist groups, Beijing’s growing economic influence and diplomatic assertiveness in Europe coupled with its growing military relationship with Russia do have major implications for the transatlantic economy as well as its security.’
6/9/2021

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G7 to D10
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Biden Worries China Might Win

‘Biden has taken the vital first step of correctly diagnosing the strategic challenge facing the country.’ ‘Like Harry Truman at the start of the Cold War and George H. W. Bush at its end, the president now has an opportunity to create a framework for a new era.’
6/9/2021

The Washington Post

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Joe Biden | President of the United States
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G7 to D10
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Joe Biden: 'My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies'

‘This is a defining question of our time: Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world?’
6/9/2021

The Atlantic

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Thomas Wright | Brookings
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G7 to D10
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'Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win'

‘Biden worries that China is in competition for America, and not only that—they might win. This belief underpins the Biden doctrine.’
6/9/2021

The Atlantic Council

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G7 to D10
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'From the G7 to a D-10: Strengthening democratic cooperation for today's challenges'

‘A “Democratic-10” or “D-10” is aimed at rallying the world’s most powerful democracies around a common cause— advancing a rules-based democratic order based on shared values and common interests.’
6/9/2021

Brookings

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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Postscript: China Doubts U.S. Allies Support

'Chinese leadership is also cynical about the effectiveness of a U.S.-led Cold War-style bloc.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

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Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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China's ‘Anti-Hegemonist Bloc’

‘To counter U.S. coalition building, China has enhanced its diplomatic, economic, and military relationship with both Russia and Iran in recent months, resulting in the closest ties these countries have had in the post-Cold War era.’
5/30/2021

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Malcolm Riddell
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Biden’s China strategy
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What China Thinks About Biden's China Policy

And that is what makes Cheng Li’s ‘Biden’s China strategy: Coalition-driven competition or Cold War-style confrontation?' so valuable. Cheng has decades of close relationships with China’s leaders and high officials. They trust him not to attribute their comments and so speak freely and honestly to him. Cheng is the person I rely on most to convey China’s positions.
5/30/2021

Brookings

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Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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'Final Thoughts'

'Just as Brzezinski foresaw the two new contending blocs –– requiring greater “geostrategic skill” –– that are forming today, Kissinger has emphasized the unprecedented dangers that AI could introduce into a divided world.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

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Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Worse for China than Trump

‘Many Chinese now believe that the Biden administration could be more detrimental to U.S.-China relations than the Trump administration.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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The Trump Legacy

‘From Beijing’s perspective, the hawkish approach to China in the final year of the Trump administration revealed that the Trump team sought to defeat and destroy China in much the same way that the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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'Biden’s China strategy: Coalition-driven competition or Cold War-style confrontation?'

‘Senior officials on the foreign policy team have frequently emphasized three “C” words: competition, cooperation, and confrontation.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Biden’s ‘Anti-China Bloc’

‘Throughout President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, his administration has largely continued the Trump administration’s hawkish approach toward China.’ ‘President Biden has also made international coalition building to confront the growing power and influence of China his primary foreign policy initiative.’ ‘Chinese leaders and the public are not convinced by the statements recently made by President Biden that these U.S.-led alliances are “not anti-Chinese” and that the United States is “not looking for confrontation” with China.’
5/30/2021

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PRC

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Wang Wenbin | Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
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Biden’s First 100 Days
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'China's Response to Biden's Speech'

‘It is natural for the two sides to have competition in some fields, but we should advocate fair competition, like competing with each other for excellence in a racing field, not beating each other on a wrestling arena.’
4/29/2021