Whoever occupies the White House Oval Office for the next four years will have to deal with the challenge of China’s growing military ambition. Polls to date point to a victory for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, although the dispute is not yet clear.
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In the past four years, under the Trump administration, relations between the United States and China have been more confrontational. If elected, Biden must adopt a more cooperative stance with allies to combat Beijing’s aggressiveness, as opposed to Trump’s unilateral stance. When he was a senator, Biden applauded China’s rise and advocated a trade link between the United States and the Asian country; now a candidate, the Democrat criticizes Beijing’s authoritarianism.
China’s military expansion
In the past few months alone, China has been involved in conflicts with deaths in disputed territory with India; intensified military activities in disputed waters in the South China Sea and repeatedly lit the warning signal for air defenses in Taiwan and Japan.
Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China and needs to be reunified. Recently, China has intensified military provocations against the island, increasing the world’s concern about a possible invasion. In September, 18 Chinese planes passed Taiwan’s air defense zone, a clear sign of heightened tensions in the region.
Taiwan has received support from Washington during the Trump administration, including visits by government officials and approval of the $ 22 billion arms sale to the island.
Analysts believe the United States will continue to support Taiwan even if the Democratic ticket wins. “Regardless of who wins, the United States will likely maintain a friendly relationship with Taiwan and will criticize China’s efforts to intimidate and destabilize the island,” said Timothy Heath, a researcher at the think tank Rand Corp, from Washington, to CNN. For the analyst, Biden could, however, offer small concessions to Beijing, such as suspending visits by government officials in Taiwan and ensuring less potent arms sales in the future.
Biden was one of the first American politicians to congratulate Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on his re-election in January.
Tony Blinken, Biden’s foreign policy adviser tipped to win a high-ranking post in a possible Democratic government, warned that China, encouraged by its increased power over Hong Kong, could seek to change the status quo in Taiwan. “If China is getting signs of impunity, one concern is that it may think it can do the same with Taiwan,” Blinken told Bloomberg in July.
As president, Biden would “intensify Taiwan’s democracy defenses by exposing Beijing’s interference efforts,” continued Biden’s top external relations aide.
China has also sought to reaffirm its dominance over the South China Sea, a region rich in resources and disputed by several nations, increasing naval activities in the region and occupying artificial islands. The waters of the South China Sea are important for security and trade because of their strategic location. Beijing sees the region as a crucial part of its maritime territory and as a route of its maritime Silk Road.
In the latest debate among US presidential candidates, Biden spoke briefly about the issue, saying that American planes would fly over Chinese identification zones.
The US Navy has been conducting “freedom of navigation” missions in the waters of the South China Sea more frequently in recent months, with the aim of alerting Beijing that its activities in the territory are being monitored and reaffirming the American commitment to the allies of the region in the face of Chinese aggression.
Biden’s change in position towards China
Biden served for decades on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Senate and was considered a strong advocate for greater engagement between the US and China.
Following the deterioration of relations between the United States and China in recent years, amid accusations of human rights violations by China and strategic competition between the two countries, Biden also raised the tone against Beijing. In a debate in February, during the primaries, Biden said that Chinese President Xi Jinping “does not have a democratic bone in his body”.
“This guy is a marginal [thug]”, Fired the then pre-candidate, speaking about the arrest of Uighurs in“ re-education ”camps in China.
For Biden, the USA will only be able to face Beijing with domestic strengthening and the union of allies to combat China’s abusive behaviors, “even as we seek to deepen cooperation on issues in which our interests converge, such as climate change and the prevention of nuclear proliferation, ”he said.
One of the main criticisms of Biden’s stance on foreign policy is that he did not act to prevent China’s military and economic growth in his two terms as vice president.
“I have spent many hours with Chinese leaders and I know what we are fighting against,” said Biden in a March article in Foreign Affairs. As vice president, he had several meetings with Xi Jinping, who called him “my old friend” during a meeting in Beijing.
In his campaign, Trump says Biden will be very “weak” with the rival country. “China is desperate for Biden Dorminhoco to win the presidential race,” tweeted the Republican.
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