After initially accusing President Trump of being insufficiently tough on China for its handling of the pandemic, the Biden-Harris campaign recently changed tack, signaling it would pursue more constructive relations with China in the spheres of public health and trade relations. The party platform adopted at the Democratic National Convention also explicitly disavowed a “new Cold War” with China.
These developments, positive as they are, mask an unfortunate underlying reality: In the critical realm of military competition with China, a Biden administration would likely sustain the basic trajectory of current U.S. strategy in the region. At a time of mounting tension over Taiwan and the South China Sea, such a prospect bodes ill for peace and stability in Asia.
During the presidential campaign, Biden has largely avoided discussing Taiwan or the South China Sea. There are no references to either of these issues on Biden’s campaign website, nor does the website contain any discussion of military competition with China, even though references to economic competition with China abound. Likewise, Biden made no mention of Taiwan or the South China Sea in an article published in Foreign Affairs in January wherein he outlined his foreign policy vision.
The 2020 Democratic Party platform, however, does make brief mention of these issues. Although noting that “the China challenge is not primarily a military one,” it insists that Democrats “will deter and respond to aggression.” It points to a commitment to defend “freedom of navigation” and “resist the Chinese military’s intimidation in the South China Sea,” while reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues “consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.” This language echoes shibboleths in American foreign policy establishment discourse in both parties.
Read the full article in RealClear World.