Tough stance against China expected from Joe Biden

US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to come through with his pledge to mobilise America’s allies in a long-overdue determination to stand up to China, forcefully, multilaterally, and effectively.

In February, Biden had described Chinese President Xi Jinping as a ‘thug’, while US President Donald Trump had called Xi a ‘great leader’, and has also admitted backing away from holding Beijing accountable for the Chinese president’s rampages in Hong Kong and Xinjiang in order to gain advantages at the trade-talks table, writes Terry Glavin for the Canadian journal Ottawa Citizen.

Glavin writes that Biden has gone out of his way to declare Beijing’s mass imprisonment of the Uyghurs and the obliteration of Uyghur culture a genocide.

Until now, the United States and the world’s liberal democracies have been all over the map in coming to terms with the belligerence and barbarism of Xi Jinping.

The issues have been about Hong Kong and Xinjiang, where Beijing has been carrying out a reign of terror aimed at enslaving and liquidating the Turkic Muslim Uyghur minority, China’s takeover of key UN agencies, its abusive manipulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and its ‘hostage diplomacy’ in one country after another.

China’s mass theft of intellectual property throughout the G20 economies, the annexation of the South China Sea, and the vast and largely unchallenged subversion and influence operations Beijing’s United Front Work Department is carrying out throughout the world’s advanced economies, including Canada, are also the issues concerning the world’s liberal democracies.

The results of the US presidential elections have demonstrated that the US is a country deeply divided, but the threat to the world order that Beijing presents is the one thing that unites Americans, wrote Glavin.

Over 300 separate bills targeting China have been drawn up by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and the important bills addressing the catastrophes in Hong Kong and Xinjiang enjoyed full bipartisan support. The most potentially effective law, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – which Trump only reluctantly signed, was co-sponsored by Republican Marco Rubio and Kamala Harris, the Democrats’ vice president-elect.

Apart from the US, Australia, which is especially vulnerable, with nearly 40 per cent of its foreign trade tied up with China, has nonetheless managed to confront Beijing’s influence-peddling and strong-arm operations in the country by passing a foreign-agents registration law.

In retaliation, Beijing slapped a tariff on Australian barley, restricted beef exports and threatened to make similar mischief with Australian lobsters, coal, timber, copper and sugar, and wine exports, which began after Australia had merely proposed an international investigation in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerning Canada, the article stated that it was not true that the country’s problems with the extradition of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou were because they had been dragged into some ‘US-China rivalry’ drama, as the arbitrary arrest and inhumane imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China in retaliation of Meng’s arrest was of a piece with Beijing’s consistent strategy of driving wedges between the US and all its allies.

Canada lacks a foreign-agents registration law of the kind Australia has adopted. Despite a consensus about Beijing’s harassment and intimidation operations in Canada that unites human rights organisations, Chinese diaspora activists, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the RCMP, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government remains strangely paralysed.

A fundamental consensus that has prevailed among Americans is now drawing in Europe: the democratic world needs to stand up to Xi Jinping’s China. One of Biden’s key foreign-policy goals would be to build on that consensus. However, it remains to be seen whether Canada will join that consensus, or remain an outlier.

Earlier on Wednesday, four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers were disqualified with immediate effect after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) passed the resolution, South China Morning Post reported. This step has forced the issue of the consensus against China.

Following the dismissal of lawmakers, all Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers resigned together in the protest against China’s top legislative body’s resolution, which gives local authorities power to unseat politicians without having to go through the city’s court. Hong Kong Free Press reported.

“Hong Kong, from today onward, can no longer tell the world that there is ‘one country, two systems’,” said Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai.