As Mars-Like China Preps for War, Venus-Leaning Americans Court Beijing

Following a slew of officials in President Biden’s administration who have visited Communist China, the latest Americans knocking on Beijing’s door are the California governor and the Senate majority leader.

AP/Mark Schiefelbein, pool
Secretary Yellen meets with the Chinese premier, Li Qiang, at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, July 7, 2023. AP/Mark Schiefelbein, pool

Americans are from Venus, Chinese are from Mars: While Communist China is preparing for war, American politicians are trying to coax Beijing into joining climate-related schemes, Wall Street types are looking for business opportunities, and U.S. diplomats are seeking rapprochement.

The latest in an ever-growing string of American public officials knocking on Beijing’s door are the California governor, Gavin Newsom,  a possible presidential candidate who is promoting a “relationship on climate” with Beijing, and the Senate majority leader, Charles Schumer, who will lead a bipartisan group on an Asian trip.

A slew of officials in President Biden’s administration also have visited Communist China this year, including, most recently, the commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, last month. Secretary Blinken, the president’s climate tsar, John Kerry, and Secretary Yellen have also visited Beijing to plead for more cooperation.

“We’ve now had four Cabinet-level official visits, and what’s come of it, a fentanyl working group? That may not even be a real thing,” the chairman of the House select committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Representative Mike Gallagher, told the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday. 

In contrast, the Communist Party’s chairman, Xi Jinping, seems to be studiously avoiding a meeting with Mr. Biden, who will travel to New York next week for the annual gathering of heads of state at the United Nations. Beijing is dispatching to the gabfest a lower-level official, Vice President Han Zheng. Last week, Mr. Xi skipped a gathering of the world’s top 20 economies at New Delhi. 

It’s true that Mr. Xi rarely goes to the UN General Assembly, and his G20 absence was widely interpreted as a snub to India, rather than to America. Yet, Washington seems more eager than Beijing to create a channel of communication to settle trade disputes, combat climate challenges, and prevent war.

“The Trump administration tried to set up that channel, the Biden administration is trying to set up that channel, and the CCP has thus far proved unwilling to set up that channel,” Mr. Gallagher says. “We slow key defensive action — whether it’s sanctions on Chinese officials, ending the licensing exemptions for Huawei, transparency on this spy balloon incident, Covid origins, finalizing the October 7th rule — in order just to sit down with the CCP in Beijing. And then they commit to some working group, and nothing ever comes of it.”

Like the love goddess Venus, America goes a-courting while Mars-like China is preparing for battle. It would be the “kind of war we have no modern experience with,” the Air Force secretary, Frank Kendall, told a symposium at National Harbor, Maryland, this week.

“Our job is to deter that war and to be ready to win if it occurs,” Secretary Kendall added. “We’re all talking about the fact that the Air and Space Forces must change, or we could fail to prevent and might even lose a war.”

While “the Department of Defense is doing what it can, and members of Congress do what they can, the leadership at the state and Treasury departments are pushing a conciliatory line on China,” a Pacific watcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Cleo Paskal, tells the Sun. 

Ms. Paskal was on hand recently as two members of the House China committee visited the Solomon Islands, where Beijing is dominating the ruling government. Likely under pressure from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s “Chinese handlers,” she says, no government official was available for a meeting with the American guests. 

On the economic front, Beijing’s predatory methods often end up harming foreign firms operating in China. Nevertheless, Wall Street executives are pressuring the administration to limit trade restrictions against China.

Mr. Biden recently used an executive order to impose restrictions on military-related trade with the Communist country. Yet, administration officials make clear to business officials that the order is very “limited” in scope, the American Compass director, Oren Cass, reports in the Financial Times. 

Europeans are even more eager than their American counterparts to amp up trade with the Communist behemoth. In April, President Macron of France warned against becoming “American followers,” and urged close trade ties with Beijing. 

“I think that wherever we can work with the CCP we should,” the ranking Democrat on the House China Committee, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, said this week. “I just really question” whether the administration is “doing it for appearance’s sake, to show Macron and his colleagues in Europe that they are actually playing a constructive role as he tries to drive a wedge between the Europeans and the Americans, or whether they’re really doing it sincerely. I think it’s the former.”  

Mr. Biden truly seems to favor strong Asian coalitions as a counterweight to China. Yet, his endless attempts at engagement with Mr. Xi, who thinks, acts, and arms up aggressively, is looking likely to end up in a Mars-Venus mismatch.

The New York Sun

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