Biden put Xi Jinping on the spot in his first address to Congress|Poon Siu-to

Published (HKT): 2021.05.03 09:55

Having almost been in office for 100 days as US president, Biden delivered his first address to Congress last Wednesday, spending quite a lot of time in supplying a narrative on his relationship with Xi Jinping and the necessity of coping with the threat from Beijing. Discernibly, to drive his domestic policies such as the USD2 trillion infrastructure, he intended to put Xi on the spot.

The theme of his speech was crisis and opportunity. First of all, he talked about rebuilding the nation, hoping that it would win the race in the 21st century. Then, he made mention of China, iterating what he had said in an earlier interview about his private discussion sessions with Xi of almost 24 hours in total in which he had expressed clearly and definitely to Xi that the US would not blink at any encroachment upon human rights by any country, nor would it turn its back on its allies. He had also told Xi that the US would welcome contest, as well as preserving its great deal of military clout in the Indo-Pacific region, which is not provocative, but rather mitigating, and he would stand guard over US’s interests, objecting unfair trade practices such as state subsidies and theft of intellectual properties.

He also said that Xi, like other dictators, thinks that democracies in the 21st century are going to fail to compete with autocracies, for it takes a long period of time for different stakeholders in a democracy to reach a consensus.

All this in his first address to Congress was seemed a platitude that was irrelevant to his plan of ruling. However, taking a closer look at it, one will find that Biden is indeed a crafty old fox. The so-called diplomacy is actually an extension of domestic policies; his harangue about diplomacy is in fact done for driving domestic policies. Since assuming office, Biden has rolled out quite a number of contentious plans ranging from immigration to population policy to trillion-dollar infrastructure to increment in taxes for the rich and big enterprises, all of which are barely possible to materialize as scheduled with his present popularity rating. Consequently, he capitalized on Xi and the China threat theory to drive his domestic policies.

The reason why he kept on iterating that China is catching up at full pelt is that he wanted Americans to feel the threat. To raise the Americans’ and Congress’ awareness of the crisis, he retold what Xi said about the contest developed between autocracies and democracies. So long as Americans recognize there is a mighty foe/rival catching up, they will dispel prejudices and hang together. Only under such circumstances can the US rise to the challenge posed by China, possibly gain the ascendancy in the contest with China, be concerned about human rights and freedom, and safeguard the interests of the US and its allies. Both positioning Beijing as a huge threat and making clear not to stay reticent about China infringing upon human rights and freedom are to the taste of Democratic leftists and Republican rightists, which is way more effective in fostering the consensus among the two parties than shooting his mouth off about how to rebuild America.

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