Biden administration indicates in no hurry to engage China

Clay Curtis
February 4, 2021

China's top diplomat called for a restoration of ties with the USA, while warning that interfering in the country's internal affairs was a "red line that must not be crossed".

Acknowledging that the USA is in "serious competition" with China, the Biden administration has asserted that it will counter Beijing's "aggressive and coercive" actions, sustain its key military advantages and restore America's vital security partnerships.

The US has adhered to the "One China" policy for decades; however, under the Trump administration, US-China relations severely deteriorated, as former US President Donald Trump accused Beijing of taking advantage of US businesses and trying to engage in intellectual property theft, among others. "It threatens our alliances and influence worldwide organizations", Price said at a State Department briefing Tuesday.

Wang Wenbin from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Thursday press briefing that Beijing has been closely monitoring the U.S. warship's activities.

"So as a first step, we want to make sure that we are in lockstep with those allies, in lockstep with those partners, and then you can expect that there will be engagement in several areas with China", he said.

Mr Xi congratulated Mr Biden on his election, even though Mr Biden called him a "thug" during the campaign and vowed to lead an global effort to "pressure, isolate and punish China".

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Biden's nominee for United Nations ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, last week called China "a strategic adversary" that threatens the world and expressed regret for a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China's initiatives in Africa and made no mention of its human rights abuses.

It has vowed to "out-compete" Beijing and endorsed a last-minute Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide against Muslims in Xinjiang, while also stressing the hope to cooperate on policy priorities like climate change.

US warships transited the waterway 13 times in 2020, according to the USA 7th Fleet, the most since 12 such transits in 2016, the final year of former President Barack Obama's administration. Yang, who was speaking at a virtual event hosted by the National Committee on US-China Relations, is the highest-ranking official so far to comment on the bilateral relationship since Biden's inauguration almost two weeks ago.

"Of course, the relationship with China is going to be multi layered, we'll deal with climate, we'll deal with the economy, we'll deal with security", she said. Just days after Biden came to power, the State Department issued a statement affirming Washington's "rock-solid" commitment to Taiwan and urging Beijing "to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure".

Separately, Price said Washington was "deeply concerned" by China's attempts to disbar and harass lawyers representing 12 Hong Kong people convicted after trying to flee to Taiwan by boat.

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