Joe Biden’s not in the White House yet, but Beijing is already targeting his circle — even those close to them. Let’s hope that pushes the next president to rethink his out-of-date approach to the Communist colossus.
China plays a long game, as the tale of accused spy Fang Fang shows. The young woman targeted up-and-coming politicians, and she had an eye for talent: Now-House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) became one of her marks when he was a lowly city councilman.
So Beijing’s drive to influence Biden’s team is “on steroids,” says top US counter-intelligence official William Evanina: “We’re starting to see that play across the country to not only the folks starting in the new administration, but those who are around those folks in the new administration.”
“If I could communicate one thing to the American people,” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to . . . democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II.”
Does Biden recognize that threat? “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” he famously said last year. “They’re not competition for us.” And he seems no more concerned now. He told The New York Times’ Tom Friedman, “In my view, we don’t have” the leverage to deal with China.
“We must prepare to meet the challenges of the future, not keep fighting the wars of the past,” Biden wrote in The Atlantic. China didn’t make his list of those challenges. And Jake Sullivan, tapped to be national security adviser, said Biden told him to “reimagine national security” to include “the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruptions, threats to democracy, racial injustice and inequality in all forms.” Oy.
It’s not just Team Trump sounding alarms. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned last week that Europe and America must work together to confront “serious challenges related to the rise of China,” telling Politico, Beijing’s ascendancy “is really changing the security environment we face.”
Cai Xia, a former Communist Party insider, says in Foreign Affairs that President Xi Jinping’s “regime has degenerated further into a political oligarchy bent on holding on to power through brutality and ruthlessness,” growing “even more repressive and dictatorial.” She’s in exile, afraid for her life.
One Biden adviser gets it: Gen. Stanley McChrystal said China’s recent military-technology gains have “essentially changed the dynamic,” adding it’s possible Beijing could attack democratic Taiwan.
“Biden’s First Foreign-Policy Crisis Is Already Here” warns Tanner Greer in Foreign Policy: Beijing’s retaliating against Australia for its moves to “publicize Chinese cyberattacks” and “condemn Party concentration camps and crackdowns in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.” These threats “cannot go unanswered by the United States,” Greer warns.
Pray that Biden is using his transition to catch up on these realities, because foreign competitors always put new presidents to the test.
Categories: Politics & Law