Who and what is shaping Biden's Policy towards China?

March 26 -- A series of recent events has increased tensions between the nations of the Transatlantic region and China, in a way which was characterized by Schiller Institute leader Helga Zepp-LaRouche as "increasingly worrisome." Tensions were raised in the opening of a summit in Alaska between U.S. officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Chinese foreign policy officials Wang Yi, the Foreign Minister, and the Director of the Central Committee for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, as Blinken read through a standard laundry list of allegations against China, leading to a sharp counter from the Chinese.

Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan' meet with CCP Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi in Alaska.

While both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the encounter -- even though the ultimate results remain unclear -- the aggressive tone from the U.S. side raises questions as to where the Biden administration intends to go from here.

The summit was preceded and followed by meetings between U.S. officials and allies in the region, to coordinate a strategy for engagement with China. This included an attempt to transform the so-called Quad alliance, between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia, into an "Asian NATO." Adding to the developing concerns over possible military confrontation has been a series of statements by U.S. military commanders, warning that China's allegedly "aggressive" posture demonstrates its "malign intent", requiring an upgrading of military readiness in the Indo-Pacific theater. Included in this picture are recent meetings and discussions with European Union and NATO officials, which elicited their commitment to deploy military forces to the region, as a sign of allied unity.

The posture adopted thus far by the Biden administration continues the sharp anti-China turn which occurred in March 2020, when President Trump scapegoated China for the lack of preparedness of the U.S. in the face of the COVID pandemic. Whereas prior to this, Trump referred to Xi as a "personal friend", signed a Phase I trade agreement with the prospects for further development, and even praised China for its initial handling of the outbreak of the coronavirus, he pivoted to blaming China for the global spread of the disease. This unleashed his rabid Secretary of State, the War Hawk Pompeo, who traveled the world lashing out against China, demanding that every nation join the U.S. in confronting China over allegations of malfeasance in its handling of the pandemic, human rights violations, economic coercion against its neighbors, and an intent to replace the U.S. as the dominant world power.

There was some hope among those alarmed by this global push for confrontation that the incoming Biden administration would replace rhetorical attacks and threats of military action with diplomacy. The recent events described above show no sign yet that the War Hawks who shifted Trump's policy during 2020 have been replaced by "adults in the room." Thus, the question has been raised, what is behind this aggressive U.S. approach?

Continuity in "Military Industrial Complex"

Proponents of increased military spending have been among the most vociferous in hyping the "threat" from China. Beginning in 2018, in the annual release of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines the military budget, China has increasingly been targeted as a hostile power. Neocons in both parties, such as Senators Rubio, a Republican, and Menendez, a Democrat, used its release as an opportunity to make unsubstantiated charges about China's aggressive intent to achieve world domination. Besides spreading exaggerated reports about China's military expansion, including claims that China's development of 5-G technology is aimed at spying and cyber warfare against the U.S., they have focused on a new category, "soft power", asserting that the presence of Confucius Institutes on American campuses is dangerous, as they are a cover for recruitment of spies, and to soften American opposition to China.

While this propaganda assault, and the recent testimony of military officials warning that China will soon be too powerful for the U.S. military to contain, is an important part of the overall picture, one must look at the role of "think tanks", which function as part of the "Deep State", in shaping a narrative to create an "enemy image" of China. A preliminary investigation has identified three institutions which are directly involved in shaping this kind of consistent message. While the articles published and the seminars held always include a statement that cooperation is preferable to confrontation, the intention to portray China as an increasing threat to global security is clear.

The three institutions are the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), established in 1921 as an arm of British intelligence in the U.S.; the Atlantic Council, founded in 1961, ostensibly created to foster continued cooperation between North America and Europe, especially focused on economic issues, such as promotion of free trade; and the Center for New America Security (CNAS), founded in 2007 by Kurt Campbell, a key Biden appointee, and Michele Flournoy, who had been considered the front-runner to become Biden's Defense Secretary, but whose nomination was derailed due to her extensive corporate ties to Military Industrial Complex (MIC) entities. CNAS was created as a new home for neocons after the discredited Project for a New American Century was shut-down in disgrace, for its lying promotion of the disastrous "endless wars" in southwest Asia. This report is not meant to be exhaustive, but to point to how these institutions function as inter-related propaganda arms for the MIC, in justifying the continuation of American support for British imperial geopolitical policies.

CNAS, founded by Biden's "Asia-tsar" Kurt Campbell, is one of three organizations primarily responsible for shaping the image of China as an enemy and growing threat. Above: Kurt Campbell and David Petraeus speaking at CNAS

The interface between these institutions is exemplified by a group of individuals associated with them, who form the core of Biden's China team. These include Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Kurt Campbell, who is Biden's "Asia Tsar" in charge of Indo-Pacific relations, and Ely Ratner, who heads Biden's China Task Force in the Department of Defense. All four have a long history with Biden, going back to his days as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as Vice President. In recent pronouncements, all have issued statements about China's "challenge to the rules-based order", which is the central theme as to why U.S. China policy must continue to utilize a carrot-and-stick approach, to reward China when it adheres to the rules acceptable to the Transatlantic powers, and punish it when it does not.

A starting point is an article coauthored by Campbell and Ratner in the March/April 2018 issue of {Foreign Affairs} (FA), the publication of the CFR. Titled "How Beijing Defied American Expectations", it set forth the now-standard explanation of what went wrong in U.S.-China policy. U.S. officials naively believed that bringing China into the World Trade Organization and expanding trade with them would lead China to adopt a market economy and accept western "norms", of "democracy" and human rights. Cambpell and Ratner argue that this was never realistic, given that China's economy is "state driven", and its leadership has disavowed "western liberal values." A similar narrative was provided by Sullivan and Campbell in another FA piece in the September/October 2019 issue, "Competition Without Catastrophe", which argues that, despite China's rejection of the western order, there are areas where cooperation is possible. The top area proposed is on "climate change". Campbell restates this in a more recent FA article he coauthored on January 12, 2021, "How America Can Shore Up Asian Order."

These themes are the subject of three recent major documents designed to shape a consensus for the administration, which call for a mix of building alliances to pursue a "hard cop" posture to deter China's "assertiveness", while including room for cooperation. The first is an anonymous paper from the Atlantic Council, "Longer Telegram: Toward a New American Strategy," released on January 28. The reference is to George Kennan's "Long Telegram" memo from 1946, which laid the basis for the Cold War with its policy of containment of the Soviet Union. It calls for the U.S. to convince China's elites that its best interest is served "by operating within the U.S.-led liberal international order rather than building a rival order." Its author asserts there is significant division within China's leadership, so that a strategy can be applied which must be "laser-focused on the fault lines among Xi and his inner circle" -- an explicit, dangerous strategy essentially advocating regime change in China.

A slightly more diplomatic paper was released by the Atlantic Council on March 22, "The China Plan: A Transatlantic blueprint for strategic competition." This strategy is necessary "to prevent China from remaking the rules-based order to its singular advantage", calling for a global alliance to counter China's alleged violations of human rights, its coercive diplomacy, its predatory economic practices, its technology competition and other "security challenges."

The third paper was produced by a CFR task force, titled "China's Belt-and-Road: Implications for the United States." While acknowledging that China has surpassed the U.S. in key areas of the economy due to "U.S. inaction" as much as by "China's assertiveness," it lays out a strategy for undermining the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). Measures to do this include demands of adherence to "free market" policies, rather than state support for infrastructure; "information warfare"; and insistence on Green policies, accusing China of violating restrictions against "carbon-intensive power", such as coal.

These themes have been hammered at in public forums and private seminars, sponsored by all three institutions. These events include promotion of the "Longer Telegram" and warnings of the "Thucydides Trap," i.e., that a war is likely if China tries to supplant the U.S. as the leading world power. Both NATO and the EU have been venues for discussions of increasing the coordination of Transatlantic nations in containing China, with NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg stating following a visit from Blinken, "NATO needs a more global approach."

While the four Biden appointees identified here have made statements which reflect Biden's pledge to the recent Munich Security Conference that there is no intent to launch a "New Cold War", Republican U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, the present chair of the regime change sponsor, the International Republican Institute, told a seminar sponsored by the Atlantic Council that the policies advocated in the "Longer Telegram" toward China are a Cold War of a "different kind", emphasizing that one of the differences is that there is now full bipartisan recognition of the threat posed by China.

Opposition Emerges

A resolution is being circulated by the Schiller Institute and its founder Helga Zepp LaRouche to provide a counter to the push toward confrontation with China. The resolution, which has so far gathered signatures from dozens of China experts, states, “For some time, an international anti-China campaign has escalated, where think tanks, mainstream media and strategic reports of all sorts paint a picture of China and its alleged intentions which is simply not true and is extremely dangerous. An enemy image is being projected that in the worst case leads to war.”
All signatories to the declaration have had “direct experience with China, be it that we have lived or worked there, or from repeated travel over longer periods of time.”

Based on their experience, they said the Chinese people are “fundamentally more optimistic about the future than the West” after the nation’s successful poverty eradication campaign. And “trust in government is substantially greater,” which is illustrated and strengthened by the effective way China brought COVID-19 under control. The statement also said that China has been making progress in science and technology as well as innovation, urging the West to “do better to respond to the offer of cooperation, [rather] than seeking confrontation.”

That diplomatic dialogue is possible was seen in the recently concluded Schiller Institute conference, "World at a Crossroad: Two Months into a New Administration." Speakers from many nations, including China, Russia, the United States, France, Germany, and southwest Asian countries spoke of the desire to break from the geopolitical doctrine and imperial provocations which have resulted in endless wars, economic catastrophes, famine and pandemics. Such dialogue at international fora is essential to avoid what otherwise is becoming a predestined collapse into a devastating war.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Harley Schlanger
    published this page in Harley Updates 2021-03-28 05:23:11 -0400