Joe Biden to lock horns with China as Beijing vows to oppose ‘imperialist US’

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It has been a week since President Joe Biden was inaugurated. He has adopted a range of complex geopolitical issues left to him by his predecessor, Donald Trump. None is more tricky than the challenge of China, which Mr Biden himself has said he plans to address.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the US declared that Beijing was committing genocide against Uighur Muslims.

It also made the unprecedented step of holding a video conference between a senior US envoy and the president of Taiwan, the self-governed island claimed by China.

It broke longstanding guidelines limiting exchanges with Taiwanese officials, and made Mr Biden’s first days in office one fraught with tension.

Just three days into Mr Biden’s first term, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force gathered a formation of bombers and fighters and sent them in Taiwan’s direction.

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The same day, the US deployed its own navy battleship, sent from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, into the South China Sea not far from where the warplanes had probed Taiwanese defences.

Many note it is likely to be just one in a series of aggressions acted out on both sides.

This is especially true given the way China views Mr Biden and the US in general, as Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at the organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW), told

She explained that President Xi Jinping and top ranking officials in Beijing don’t make “huge distinctions” between US Presidents, and so Mr Biden may as well be Mr Trump, hence the military excursion around Taiwan.

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When asked how Chinese state media portrays the US and its officials, Ms Wang said: “With Trump it centres around his flamboyance, because this is the guy whose politics and sanctions affected China.

“But really, the Chinese government doesn’t make a huge distinction between Trump and Biden, or the two separate parties even.

“They view and portray the US as an imperialist power trying to undermine China.

“So it’s less about which party is in power and more about which country, which state, which administration has the goal of undermining China.

“For China, that’s always the US.”


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While economists say Mr Biden won’t confront China with Mr Trump’s biting trade war immediately, many agree that it isn’t going away.

The new president is tipped to pick up on the trade war, but focus efforts on renewing pressure over technology grievances, such as Huawei’s initial domination of 5G

Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said: “I think Biden will focus more on trying to extract structural reforms.

“It’s going to take some time before we get any shift or explicit announcements.”

Mr Biden is thought to be ready to lock horns with China, but is evaluating tariffs on Chinese goods and wants to coordinate future steps with allies.

On Monday, White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said at a briefing: “The President is committed to stopping China’s economic abuses.”

And, despite its fierce rhetoric, China earlier this week was more reserved following a briefing held by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian.

He asked Washington to learn from Mr Trump’s “erroneous policies” and adopt a “constructive attitude”.

However, he gave no indication of possible changes by Beijing, and added: “Cooperation is the only correct choice for both sides.”

Meanwhile, Mr Biden’s administration was said to be disappointed following the EU’s mammoth investment deal with China, worth an estimated £176billion.

Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York, told that such deals should be avoided at all costs.

He said: “We (liberal democracies) need to start trading more with friends and allies that share our values and don’t intimidate their neighbours.”

The analyst also commented that Mr Biden will likely be more “concerted” on China compared to his predecessor, and move to work with allies to curb Beijing’s.

While this would be positive, he said, it could see Taiwan, and other countries in similar situations, become “less confident” in their fight for sovereignty and self-determination.

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