Biden's 'Reset' With Communist China Beckons | Opinion

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan are set to meet with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) counterparts Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi today in Anchorage, Alaska, in what some have speculated is an effort to "reset" relations between the two powers.

The Biden administration has played down this idea—having vacillated previously on its desire for a "reset"—while China has indicated that it welcomes bilateral relations, on its terms.

But the truth of the matter is that by dint of having any such meeting, Team Biden is signaling that a reset is already well underway.

That the administration seeks to engage China without preconditions—and, further, from a position of relative weakness when it has professed it will only do so from strength—validates the view that the executive branch is reverting from a posture of hostility to one of accommodation. This holds regardless of whatever "tough talk" administration officials will likely say they communicated in the aftermath of the meeting.

China has done nothing in the early days of the Biden administration to merit this powwow. Therefore, it is proper to view the Alaska exchange as a de facto reward for the CCP's continued malign behavior. The CCP continues to persecute Xinjiang's Uyhurs, crack down on Hong Kongers and threaten the Taiwanese. With respect to its dealings with the West, the CCP has continued its coronavirus cover-up by obstructing the efforts of those investigating the origins of the pandemic that it unleashed upon the world.

In spite of this malign behavior, while it has tsk-tsked China over its human rights abuses and expressed muted criticism over China's stonewalling of the World Health Organization (WHO) in its pandemic "investigation," among the Biden administration's first acts was to rejoin the WHO.

Does the fact it legitimized this CCP-captured organization, becoming party to it again without it having made any discernible reforms, indicate the administration is engaging from a position of strength?

Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and John Kerry
Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and John Kerry in 2015 PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Consider some of the other facts that call into question the notion the Biden administration is engaging China with any sort of leverage:

  • On policy, the best one can say is that the Biden administration has not yet removed all of the weight the Trump administration brought to bear against the CCP. Nevertheless, on top of rejoining the WHO, the administration also re-entered the self-defeating Paris climate accord while undertaking a series of other soft-on-China executive actions that served to reduce pressure on the CCP over its culpability in the coronavirus pandemic, the threat it poses to the security of the electric grid, exploitation of our capital markets and penetration of our academic institutions.
  • None of the Biden administration's nominees managing the China portfolio would qualify as career "hardliners" on China—or even long-time critics. On the contrary, virtually all of them were proponents of—and often participants in—the effort to integrate China into the globalist project, aiding, abetting and enabling its rise to becoming America's greatest adversary.
  • The administration has never publicly disclosed any comprehensive policy plan to hold the CCP accountable for its role in the coronavirus pandemic, respond to the CCP's sanctioning of more than two dozen Trump administration officials or punish it for its aforementioned human rights violations.
  • In the run-up to the Alaska meeting, senior Biden administration officials met with many of America's Indo-Pacific allies and partners, which one might think was intended to serve as a message to China. The Biden administration cast such meetings in a different light.
    • While President Biden participated in the first-ever meeting between each of the heads of state of the "Quad"—an essential alliance for countering the CCP among the U.S., Japan, Australia and India—he signed onto a joint letter with his counterparts declaring a commitment to a "free, open, secure and prosperous" Indo-Pacific region that failed to mention the greatest threat to the region: Communist China. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki even said point-blank that the meeting "was not fundamentally about China."
    • Administration spokesmen were at pains not only to de-emphasize the Quad's focus on China, but also to delink administration officials' trips to South Korea and Japan from U.S.-China relations.
  • Perhaps more fundamental, while the administration has spoken to China's malign behavior, unlike its predecessor administration, it has never articulated a view that the CCP is a ruthless, totalitarian, Marxist-Leninist regime that harbors hegemonic ambitions. If Team Biden does not understand the true nature and aims of the CCP—or worse, if it fears speaking openly and honestly about them—it will necessarily not be able to counter the CCP.

Secretary Blinken seems to recognize how the Alaska conversation is being perceived. He asserted in recent testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Anchorage rendezvous is not a "strategic dialogue." He added that there is "no intent at this point for a series of follow-on engagements," which would "have to be based on the proposition that we're seeing tangible progress and tangible outcomes on the issues of concern to us."

But as the saying goes, "if you're explaining, you're losing." The thawing of relations is self-evident.

The administration's content-free rhetoric about a China strategy that is competitive, cooperative and confrontational on an issue-by-issue basis gives the game away.

Team Biden is telegraphing a return to something approximating the status quo ante of integration and appeasement to whatever extent it is politically feasible.

This will, of course, only further embolden Communist China.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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