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The Economist Magazine 23rd July 2021. Optimists long hoped that welcoming China into the global economy would make it a “responsible stakeholder”, and bring about political reform. As president, Donald Trump blasted that as weak. Now Joe Biden is converting Trumpian bombast into a doctrine that pits America against China, a struggle between rival political systems which, he says, can have only one winner. Between them, Mr Trump and Mr Biden have engineered the most dramatic break in American foreign policy in the five decades since Richard Nixon went to China.

Mr Biden and his team base their doctrine on the belief that China is “less interested in coexistence and more interested in dominance”. The task of American policy is to blunt Chinese ambitions. America will work with China in areas of common interest, like climate change , but counter its ambitions elsewhere (see Briefing). That means building up the strength at home and working abroad with allies that can supplement its economic, technological, diplomatic, military and moral heft. Much about Mr Biden’ s new doctrine makes sense. The optimistic case for engagement has crumbled under the realities of Chinese power. Led by President Xi Jinping, China has garrisoned the South China Se a, imposed party rule on Hong Kong, threatened Taiwan, skirmished with India and has tried to subvert Western values in international bodies. Many countries are alarmed by China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy. The Economist Magazine 23rd July 2021

But the details of the Biden doctrine contain much to worry about—not least that it is unlikely to work. One problem is how Mr Biden defines the threat. Because politics in Washington is broken, he seems to feel that he needs the spirit of Pearl Harbour to help rekindle a sense of national purpose. That is a miscalculation. It is true that Republicans jump on anything they can portray as soft on China (even though every time they say that the presidential election was stolen, they do the work of Chinese propagandists). However , Republicans are unlikely to start backing Mr Biden’s domestic agenda just because it has the word “China” stamped on the cover. The Economist Magazine 23rd July 2021.


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