Biden China Tracker

'Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win'

The Atlantic

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

2

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

‘Two years ago, Biden spoke about why he thought reports of China’s strength were overstated, and made a remark that Republicans hammered him for during the 2020 campaign:’

  • ‘ “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.” ’
  • ‘Now he worries that they are competition for America, and not only that—they might win.’

‘In Biden’s view, the United States and other democracies are in a competition with China and other autocracies.’

  • ‘This belief underpins the Biden doctrine.’

‘Those who have concerns with his doctrine ignore an important geopolitical development that Biden has put his finger on.’

  • ‘The old rules-based international order has come apart, and two broad constellations of countries are emerging in its place—one consisting of democracies, the other autocracies.’

‘Each side is motivated more by insecurity than by an ambition to transform the world in its image.’

  • ‘Xi and his fellow autocrats worry that the free flow of information, the attractiveness of democracy, and economic interdependence would destabilize their regimes.’
  • ‘Biden and America’s allies are concerned that Xi’s attempt to make the world safe for the Chinese Communist Party will undermine freedom and democracy, pushing international rules in an illiberal direction and empowering autocrats worldwide.’
  • ‘Neither is wrong in their assessment.’

‘The big questions concern what happens next.’

  • ‘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.’

  • ‘It will not be easy.’

‘What makes Biden’s job complex is the fact that our era of competition is fundamentally different from the Cold War, thanks to the high level of interdependence between democracies and autocracies, especially China.’

  • ‘Biden will have to lead democracies in agreeing on an appropriate level of engagement with China.’

‘Some presidents never find a doctrine. Biden has one.’

  • ‘In his view, the United States is in a competition of governance systems with China.’

‘His response is not about spreading democracy at gunpoint or even democracy promotion per se, but about showing that democracy can deliver—at home and abroad.’

  • ‘The question now is whether Biden can bring his administration, the country, and America’s allies along to embed this doctrine in U.S. foreign policy.’

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