Good morning. Biden introduces his foreign policy team. The Dow breaks 30,000. And Pennsylvania is banning alcohol sales.
Joe Biden with Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2011.Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
How Biden will confront China
The presidents who came just before Donald Trump took a mostly hopeful view of China. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes all tried to integrate China into the global economy and political system. Doing so, they believed, could persuade China to accept international rules and become more democratic.
China used access to the world’s markets to grow richer on its own terms. It rejected many international rules — on intellectual property, for example — while becoming more authoritarian at home. As a recent Times story puts it, China has adopted “increasingly aggressive and at times punitive policies that force countries to play by its rules.”
Trump is not a close student of international affairs, but he evidently grasped China’s ambitions in ways that his predecessors did not. He treated it as what it almost certainly is: America’s most serious threat since the Soviet Union.
Trump’s China policy had a different weakness, in the eyes of many experts and foreign diplomats. He antagonized allies who are also worried about China’s rise, rather than building a coalition with Japan, Europe, Australia and others. As Keyu Jin, a Chinese economist at the London School of Economics, has written, Trump has been “a strategic gift” for China.
Soon, it will be Joe Biden’s turn — to see if he can manage China more effectively than other recent presidents have. (Yesterday, Biden introduced his foreign-policy team.)
His administration is likely to take a different approach to China than it does on many other issues. On those others, like climate change and health care, Biden will be trying to reverse Trump’s policies. On China, Biden instead seems set to accept Trump’s basic diagnosis but to strive for a more effective treatment. The Biden team’s critique of the current China policy is about “means more than ends,” Walter Russell Mead wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
Biden and his aides have signaled that they will not return to the wishful pre-Trump policy toward China (even though several of them helped shape that policy in the Obama administration). “The United States does need to get tough with China,” Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in January.
To do so, they will use diplomacy. Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, said this summer: “We are in a competition with China … We need to rally our allies and partners instead of alienating them to deal with some of the challenges that China poses.” Jake Sullivan, the incoming national security adviser, has written (along with the historian Hal Brands) that the way to check China’s display of a “superpower’s ambition” and maintain U.S. influence is to end “the current trajectory of self-sabotage.”
Biden, speaking about his new appointees yesterday, said, “They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies.”
In concrete terms, this could mean forging more agreements on restricting the use of Chinese technology, like Huawei. It could mean creating economic alliances that invest in developing countries only if they agree to respect intellectual property and human rights — and trying to isolate China in the process.
The larger goal will be making other countries believe that the U.S. is no longer going it alone. “The narrative in Asia,” Michael Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me, “is that America is out of the game.”
I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn.
I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law.
I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam.
In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship.
Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam.
I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN.
I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net).
I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries.
In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống).
In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success".
I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.
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