Biden’s assertion that he’ll prioritize American alliances should produce a clear and explicit public declaration to confront China in a broad sense, just as Reagan did with Russia while campaigning and in office. Beijing is threatening Australia and Canada with trade wars and the Philippines and Japan with actual wars. And it is stealing the territory of new partners such as India. Biden hasn’t told the public anything about how he’ll confront these challenges.
Worse, Biden is evidently reluctant even to identify China for what it is — a communist dictatorship that seeks to displace the United States as the leader of an international order built around human freedom and opportunity and to replace it with one of Beijing-centered feudal serfdom. This truth isn’t negotiable. Xi’s imprisonment of millions of his own people in reeducation camps, his shredding of treaty commitments to uphold Hong Kong’s democratic character, and his seizure of the near entirety of the South China Sea make it incontrovertible. His regional policy is one of an imperialism that has not been seen in the Pacific region since the 1930s, when the aggressor was Japan. This reality is the context for the global reach of China’s industrial-scale cyberespionage campaign to steal everything of value — whether it be computer software or a coronavirus vaccine. Regrettably, when asked about the incoming administration’s policy toward China, Biden, Blinken, and Sullivan offer only a pledge for more effective competition with Beijing. Whatever that means. Beijing has taken note.