The most significant actions Biden could take on China in his first 100 days would not relate directly to China. Restoring American leadership in tackling global challenges, repairing relationships with allies and partners, countering the spread of Covid-19 at home and abroad, reviving an economy slammed by the pandemic — any of these steps would disprove Beijing’s belief that America has lost its capacity for self-correction.
Below the president, Secretary Pompeo and other members of the administration appear to have broader goals. They want to reorient the U.S.-China relationship toward an all-encompassing systemic rivalry that cannot be reversed by the outcome of the upcoming U.S. election. They believe this reorientation is needed to put the United States on a competitive footing against its 21st-century geostrategic rival.
A pattern seems to have taken hold, with the Chinese taking actions the US finds objectionable, America responding punitively, and then China retaliating in a reciprocal tit-for-tat fashion. I expect the same pattern to play itself out in the case of the closing of this consulate.
There’s a lot of parallels between what China has domestically and what they’re imposing on Hong Kong, they’re like clouds that hang over society. They can decide when the sun is allowed to come through, and they can decide when to block it.
If Hong Kong loses preferential trade treatment, U.S. tariffs and export controls on China would apply to Hong Kong. This action-reaction sequence of China tightening its hold on Hong Kong and America responding by withdrawing preferential treatment would weaken Hong Kong's status as a global financial hub.
Whenever Trump withdraws the U.S. from international leadership, Xi announces that China will step forward...Xi has been ruthlessly opportunistic about seeking to exploit America’s withdrawal from global leadership for China’s advantage.
I think that the [U.S.-China] relationship is probably at the worst point since at least [normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations] of 1979. There is no sign that there will be meaningful efforts at coordination between Washington and Beijing anytime soon. Right now, the most important priority is to save lives and to stop spread of the virus and to rescue the global economy. But that's not going to happen.
[The outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic] is the most perilous moment since World War II. This is the most acute public-health crisis that the world has faced in a century. It's hitting every major country simultaneously. The ability of world powers to collaborate is severely diminished; multilateral institutions like the World Health Organization, the U.N., the G-7, the G-20 just aren't functional. The U.S.-China relationship is in free fall and there doesn't appear to be any effort in Beijing and Washington to preserve its capacity to collaborate in arresting the spread of the virus or destruction that it is causing. [Instead, the US and China] are trying to place the other in the worst possible light on the international stage. The only way to make the United States safe is to stamp out the virus in every corner of the world. The only way to stamp out the virus in every corner of the world is to align international efforts to do so, and there's no pathway to doing that without China on board. And so it's time to tone down the rhetoric, take a break from the finger pointing, and roll up our sleeves and figure out how to get our arms around the problem. The American people deserve it.
As the world searches for solutions amidst a global health crisis, the United States is taking a position that Taiwan’s contribution must be included, the world needs all the help it can get at this moment, and Taiwan has a lot to offer.