Less than 24 hours before Joe Biden swears in as the 46th President of the United States, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken bluntly said that outgoing President Donald Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China, even though he does not agree with the Trump administration’s tactics.
“Let me just say that I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China. I disagree, very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas but the basic principle was the right one and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy,” Blinken told members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
He did not detail the exact areas where he took issue with Trump’s approach to China.
Blinken — who described China as posing the “most significant challenge of any nation state to the United States” – said the country must be approached from a “position of strength.” He explained that a position of strength can be accomplished when the US works with allies, leads in international institutions, investing at home and stands up for human rights.
“If we come together and do them,” Blinken said taking the actions to put the US into a position of strength. “I think we can then deal with the specific challenges that China poses from that position of strength, not a position of weakness.”
Trump’s Republican Party enablers in the Congress have been pushing the Biden ‘soft on China’ trope. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, for example, in a typically classless tweet after last year’s election, disparaged Biden’s cabinet picks, saying the former vice president was ‘surrounding himself with panda huggers who will only reinforce his instincts to go soft on China’.
Meanwhile, Trump’s son recently said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is not good for India as he could be soft on China. “We have to understand the threat of China and no one knows that probably better than Indian-Americans,” Trump Jr, told a select group of supporters from the community at the event in Long Island, New York. In his book “Liberal Privilege”, he has documented allegations of corruption against 77-year-old Joe Biden’s family, particularly against his son Hunter Biden.
Unusually, the view of Biden as potentially more pliant to Beijing has also come from some local Hong Kong and Asian human rights activists and pro-democracy advocates. They see the former vice president as too eager to revert to the status quo of ‘normal’ relations between Washington and Beijing in pursuit of loftier goals, like cooperation on climate change.