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

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

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Biden Doctrine
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Biden Doctrine

2

BIG IDEA | ‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
‘An antagonistic policy requires what Mr Doshi calls “asymmetric blunting”: ways of undermining China’s attempts to rebuild the world order that do not cost too much.’

First the Building...

‘The building comes first.’

  • ‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
  • ‘ “Rarely has a great power like the United States gone on such a detour,” says the senior official. “It’s tragic.” ’

‘America must recover from all that, and invest in itself, Mr Biden’s aides say, so that it can deal with China from a position of strength.’

  • ‘But ambitious as the United States Innovation and Competition Act and other new and proposed laws look in Washington, these numbers cannot compare with Chinese spending on infrastructure and industrial policy.’

‘And the U.S. numbers are shrinking.’

  • ‘The core infrastructure plan has been whittled down to $600bn in negotiations with Republicans whose distaste for handing victories to Mr Biden exceeds their animosity to China (though Democrats want to add back $3.5trn in another package).’

‘Even if America were united in its efforts, though, building back at a rate that would seriously diminish China’s current prospects is not possible.’

…Then the Blunting

‘That is why an antagonistic policy requires what Mr Doshi calls “asymmetric blunting”: ways of undermining China’s attempts to rebuild the world order that do not cost too much.’

  • ‘Militarily, that means adopting an approach of “deterrence by denial” in areas just beyond internationally recognised Chinese waters, investing in state-of-the-art weapons to stop China seizing control of waters or islands (like Taiwan) to which it considers itself entitled.’
  • ‘Economic blunting tactics include enforcing export controls so that American companies do not fuel China’s rapid development of critical technologies—a tool that the Trump administration used to cripple Huawei and to impede China’s biggest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.’
  • ‘Political blunting includes countering China’s influence in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.’

‘Because such strategies require partners, their cultivation is a core tenet of Mr Biden’s strategy.’

  • ‘This cultivation has borne some fruit in the form of some sanctions and official statements.’
  • ‘Serious blunting, though, requires more than co-ordinated statements and (largely symbolic) sanctions. Here there is less to report.’
  • ‘And where America does not lead, its allies seem unlikely to go of their own accord.’

‘When Mr Biden presents the China challenge as a dichotomy of democracies versus autocracies, European officials wince.’

  • ‘And the status of a country like Vietnam, which Mr Biden wants on-side, becomes problematic.’