Despite the occasional box-checking, wishy-washy comment slapping Beijing on the wrist for the worst of its abuses, the reality is that the former vice president’s support of the People’s Republic of China is deep and longstanding. In the critical fight over whether to grant most-favored-nation trade status and World Trade Organization membership to China in the 1990s — a fight in which, again, many of his party’s leaders in Congress were on the right side — Biden carefully shepherded China through the process from his powerful perch as the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Wherever a brake might have been applied — by placing human-rights or labor conditions on most-favored-nation status, for example — Biden voted the measures down and lobbied other senators for Beijing. Unfortunately, China and Biden got their way, and American workers are still suffering from it.
It should have been a warning on more fronts than one when President Obama recruited Biden to his ticket to buttress his credibility on foreign policy; unsurprisingly, there was no about-face on Beijing. As the Chinese Communist Party gained strength and Xi Jinping seized absolute power, Biden continued to push for closer ties and even more trade. As for American workers? In February 2012, in friendly remarks with Xi standing next to him, Biden praised Beijing as a “new partner” that would help to meet “global challenges,” and said Americans “welcome this competition. . . . It pushes our companies to develop better products and services and our government to craft better policies.” Millions of American jobs were disappearing as he spoke, and the militarization of the South China Sea was just around the corner.
While warmer ties with China were devastating American workers and threatening our national security, they have been very good for the Biden family.