Biden China Tracker

by Malcolm Riddell

'Remarks by President Biden on the American Jobs Plan'

The White House

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April 7, 2021
'Remarks by President Biden on the American Jobs Plan'
'Remarks by President Biden on the American Jobs Plan'
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BIG IDEA | Look, do we think the rest of world is waiting around? Take a look. Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development?’

As I have pointed out before, if you rely on reports of President Biden’s comments on the American Jobs Plan - such as ‘Joe Biden says his US$2.3 trillion infrastructure plan is essential for US to compete with China’ in the South China Morning Post,’ or ‘Biden plays the China card’ in Politico, or the Chinese essay laid out in the post below – you would think that Mr. Biden is using China as his main point for selling the plan.

  • He is not.

Below are his remarks from April 7.

  • China is mentioned twice.

The balance  and greatest portions are arguments about how the Plan benefits the middle class, with statements like this.

  • ‘As I said last week, this is a blue-collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people.’

By not making it the main point, Mr. Biden doesn’t increase the demonization of China and gives himself a little more room on China policy overall.

  • That must take a lot of discipline because scaring the bejeezus out of everyone is the surest path to success.

‘I promise you — this is not part of my speech — but I promise you, you’re all going to be reporting over the next six to eight months how China and the rest of the world is racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future, attempting to own the future.’

  • ‘The technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money and dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s — that’s the infrastructure of a nation.’  

‘Look, do we think the rest of world is waiting around?’

  • ‘ “We’re not going to make those kinds of investments,” the rest of the world is saying.’
  • ‘Take a look. Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development?’
  • ‘I promise you, they are not waiting, but they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace.

Less emphasized than his few comments about China are the importance of demonstrating that democracies can still actually get things done.

  • This to counter the assertions by China that the superiority of its political system is precisely that: It delivers.

‘You’ve heard me say it before: I think this generation is going to be marked by the competition between democracies and autocracies, because the world is changing so rapidly.’

  • ‘The autocrats are betting on democracy not being able to generate the kind of unity needed to make decisions to get in that race.  We can’t afford to prove them right.’
  • ‘We have to show the world — and much more importantly, we have to show ourselves — that democracy works; that we can come together on the big things.  It’s the United States of America for God’s sake.’

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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

CHINADebate

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Malcolm Riddell
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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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Cheng Li
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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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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

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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

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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

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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