Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden has indicated plans to continue vigorous American policies toward China, but his record suggests he will return to the appeasement policies toward Beijing of Democratic and Republican administrations before President Trump.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned this week that a Biden administration would revert to policies of President Obama.
“I think America’s biggest concern ought to be that we’ll return to a policy of appeasement,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox News Channel when asked about his major concern over a Biden foreign policy.
Mr. Pompeo noted that the Obama-Biden years were marked by a foreign policy known as “leading from behind.”
“It’s the antithesis of what President Trump has done,” he said.
Mr. Biden, as vice president and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chalked up a record of weak and conciliatory policies toward China going back 20 years or more. In a January article in Foreign Affairs, Mr. Biden promised to reverse President Trump’s foreign policy, which he argued had alienated U.S. allies and emboldened foreign adversaries.
After initially rejecting the new competition with China, Mr. Biden promised to “get tough with China” and prevail in U.S.-Chinese competition by increasing the American innovation and uniting democracies to counter “abusive economic policies.”
“China represents a special challenge,” he wrote. “I have spent many hours with its leaders, and I understand what we are up against. China is playing the long game by extending its global reach, promoting its own political model, and investing in the technologies of the future.”
The article was written before disclosures that his son Hunter Biden had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in China while his father was serving as vice president.
Mr. Biden’s past advocacy for closer relations with Beijing does not auger well for a get-tough approach.
In a Sept. 19, 2000, floor speech, Sen. Biden argued in favor of legislation that was ultimately passed granting China permanent normal trade relations status.
“Granting China PNTR and bringing China into the global trading regime continues a process of careful engagement designed to encourage China’s development as a productive, responsible member of the world community,” he said at the time.
Noting senators’ objections to China’s human rights abuses and predatory economic policies, Mr. Biden still concluded: “While we cannot dictate the future of China, we can — we must — encourage China to follow a course that will make it a more responsible, constructive member of the community of nations.”
As vice president, Mr. Biden went further, calling for intimate economic and trade integration with the emerging communist power.
In an Aug. 21, 2011, speech in Chengdu, China, Mr. Biden made what critics say is a craven appeal to Beijing for closer ties.
Mr. Biden said he believed in 1979 and at that time that a rising China was a positive development for the world. Creating closer ties was a top priority for the Obama administration.
Noting improved relations, Mr. Biden then declared: “In order to cement this robust partnership, we have to go beyond close ties between Washington and Beijing, which we’re working on every day, go beyond it to include all levels of government, go beyond it to include classrooms and laboratories, athletic fields and boardrooms.”
The ensuing years instead brought massive Chinese theft of American technology and personal data through computer hacking and other means. The White House in 2017 estimated Chinese theft of American technology at as much as $600 billion annually.
China’s military also gained extremely valuable intelligence from the United States during the appeasement years, to the point where Chinese steal designs for fighters, bombers, warships, submarines and the missiles they carry, all benefiting from stolen American weapons know-how.
During the Obama-Biden administration, China in 2012 took control of the disputed Spratly island of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines with no reaction from the U.S., a defense treaty ally of Manila.
Washington’s appeal for Beijing to withdraw forces from Scarborough were ignored.
That led to stepped-up moves by China to reclaim islands throughout the South China Sea and ultimately deployment of Chinese anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles on some of the disputed islands.
CHINA TARGETS ATLANTA AIRPORT
A 50-second video clip was posted on the Chinese social media outlet Weibo. It revealed commercial jets landing and taxiing at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The video was produced by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd., manufacturer of the Jilin-1, a Chinese government-linked company that identifies itself as a “commercial” satellite imagery firm.
Chang Guang said Jilin-1 is capable of not just live video but also of tracking the trajectory of aircraft and monitoring speed — capabilities that would assist missile targeting.
The company has 10 Jilin-1 satellites in orbit and plans six more. The satellites are “capable of global coverage and real-time data acquisition,” the company website states. “It can revisit any location on the globe twice a day, and has a leading revisit cycle in the world.”
“In addition to global strike missions, this capability would be useful tracking deployment and logistics airflows,” said retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, former Pacific Fleet intelligence director.
The video also could be used to track aircraft transponders and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast signals, he said.
Nine Jilin-1 satellites were launched in September from a freighter, as reported by this column on Oct. 8, raising concerns that China could turn is huge fleet of merchant ships into platforms for launching mobile missiles.
WHITE HOUSE HONORS VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM
The White House recently noted the horrible death count for people under communism in marking the National Day for the Victims of Communism.
In a Nov. 7 statement, the White House said the day marked a solemn remembrance for more than 100 million people who died under communism in the 20th century.
“We commit ourselves to stopping the spread of this oppressive ideology that, without fail, leaves in its wake misery, destruction, and death,” the White House said in a statement. “As proud Americans who cherish the blessings of freedom and democracy, we promise to support the more than one billion people currently captive within communist regimes and denied their unalienable rights to life and liberty.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the decisive Polish victory against the Bolsheviks in the Battle of Warsaw. The 1920 series of battles is known as the “Miracle on the Vistula,” as Polish fighters turned back the Russian Red Army formed under Vladimir Lenin two years earlier.
The battles halted the spread of communism in Europe for decades.
“Sadly, the Soviet Union erected an Iron Curtain around Poland and spread communism to neighboring countries and around the world,” the statement said.
“Since then, the United States and the free world have borne witness to the horrors of communism, including Chinese prison camps and Soviet gulags. Over the last century, communist regimes from Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge to Ethiopia’s Derg have confirmed the soul-crushing oppression inherent in Karl Marx’s philosophy.”
The White House noted the irony today of several “people’s republics” around the world that have nothing to do with people but instead are one-party states existing solely for the benefit of a few.
“Over and over, communism and socialism have proven to be irreconcilable with the unalienable and fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the statement said. “While Marxism promises equality, peace and happiness, in practice it results only in inequality, violence and despair.”
The Trump administration remains committed to “standing against this insidious ideology, and pledges with great pride that the United States will never be a socialist nation.”
“We memorialize all those who have lost their lives to communism and recommit to promoting freedom so that future generations can flourish,” the statement concluded.
• Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.
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