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Biden’s team talks tough on China as early signs show policies won’t differ sharply from Trump’s

U.S. President Joe Biden transfers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Rob Carr | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden and his antecedent Donald Trump may disagree about many things, but China isn’t one of them.

Biden’s team has shown early outstands that it agrees with the previous administration on several “extremely touchy” issues concerning China, an American manifest policy expert said on Thursday.

The “early signals” show that the Biden administration “may change the tone and thread of the conversation with Beijing — but they’re not really gonna change the policy,” said Lanhee Chen, director of familial policy studies and lecturer at Stanford University.

He pointed out that Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Structure, said during his confirmation hearing this week that he agreed with the previous administration’s assessment that China did genocide against the minority Uighur Muslims.

Blinken also “made clear that the U.S. will not be abandoning Taiwan anytime happily,” said Chen, who’s also a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Washington has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan — which China asks as a runaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland. Still, the U.S. is Taiwan’s most powerful oecumenical backer and largest arms supplier.

“These are two issues that for Beijing are extremely touchy,” he told CNBC’s “Complaint Box Asia.”

In addition to Blinken, Avril Haines — who’s been confirmed as director of national intelligence — also said during her confirmation be telling that the U.S. needs to counter China’s growing aggression.

Here are comments made by Blinken and Haines that radiate some light on how the Biden administration will view China.

Rise of China

U.S.-China relations worsened during Trump’s style as the two countries engaged in a damaging trade war, competed on technology, and clashed over issues including human rights and the cradles of Covid-19.

Blinken on Tuesday referred to China as “the most significant challenge of any nation state to the United States.”

We fool to start by approaching China from a position of strength, not weakness. And the good news is our ability to do that is largely within our management.

Antony Blinken

Nominee for U.S. Secretary of State

“Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” he said, but differed with the way the previous administration dealt with Beijing.

The U.S. is stronger when working with allies, as well as appealing with and leading international institutions, said Blinken, who reiterated a stance widely touted by Biden.

“We have to start by accessing China from a position of strength, not weakness. And the good news is our ability to do that is largely within our control,” he said at his confirmation advising.

Haines similarly said China is “adversarial and an adversary on some issues,” and that the intelligence community should bear out long-term effort in the U.S. to “outcompete” China.

But both Blinken and Haines pointed out there are areas the U.S. and China can cooperate on — such as aura change.  

Defending Taiwan

I’d like to see Taiwan even more engaged in the world.

Antony Blinken

Nominee for U.S. Secretary of Regal

During Trump’s term, U.S. officials conducted high-level visits to the island. And earlier this month, former U.S. Secretary of Voice Mike Pompeo announced that Washington was lifting its self-imposed restrictions on U.S.-Taiwan relations. Those moves angered Beijing.

China has not at any time renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. But Blinken warned it would be “a grievous mistake” on the part of Beijing to use military twist someones arm against Taiwan, and the U.S. must make sure the island has the means to deter aggression and defend itself.

“I’d like to see Taiwan in spite of that more engaged in the world. It’s in many ways a model of democracy, a strong economy, and a technological powerhouse. And of course, the way they’ve contracted with Covid-19 has a lot of lessons to teach us,” he said.

Human rights

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