The Biden administration is so bent on containing China’s rise that it is willing to jeopardize the U.S. and global economy to see that Beijing does not overtake the U.S., Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said during a speech in Washington last week.
Yellen admitted that an economic decoupling between the two superpowers should be something to avoid, given its impact, but said Washington’s chief priority is “national security” in its relationship with Beijing and everything else comes second.
Yellen said Washington will not compromise on these issues, “even when they force trade-offs with our economic interests.”
Yellen gave a speech last week at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She laid out the U.S.’s approach to China and seemed to try and strike something of a diplomatic yet suspicious tone.
She said Washington wants to help promote a fair economic relationship with Beijing, but China has to play by the rules. She said she also hoped the countries can work with each other on pressing world issues, like Ukraine.
“The U.S. will assert ourselves when our vital interests are at stake,” Yellen said. “But we do not seek to decouple our economy from China’s. A full separation of our economies would be disastrous for both countries. It would be destabilizing for the rest of the world.”
She told the audience that the White House does not look at the issue as a zero-sum contest where one must fall “for the other to rise.”
She said, “We believe that the world is big enough for both of us.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, told China Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, that Beijing does “not shy away or flinch from competition.”
“However, we oppose defining the entire China-US relationship by competition, oppose the generalization of the concept of national security, and oppose decoupling even at the expense of global industrial and supply chains,” he said.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who has become one of the biggest war hawks on Ukraine, seemed irritated that Yellen tried to strike something of a diplomatic tone with China and said she is “out of touch with reality.”
He said it is impossible for the U.S. to have a healthy relationship with “communists who want America to fail.”
TRENDPOST: It is unfortunate for the world that the U.S. has politicians like Cotton in positions of power in Washington. How many countries does Washington want to “fail”? Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and Syria come to mind. Cotton should go on a weather-balloon hunting expedition with Sen. Lindsey Graham and stay out of foreign policy issues.
The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the competition between the U.S. and China.
Biden announced at the beginning of his presidency that maintaining Washington’s status as the world’s top economy was his highest priority. (See “CHINA’S XI ACCUSES U.S. OF CONTAINMENT STRATEGY IN RARE PUBLIC REBUKE” 14 Mar 2023, “BLINKEN GOES TO AFRICA TO PEDDLE “DEMOCRACY” IN EFFORT TO BLOCK CHINA AND RUSSIA’S INROADS ON CONTINENT,” 16 Aug 2022, and “BIDEN RAMPS UP PRESSURE ON CHINA” 27 Jul 2021.)
In February 2021, just weeks into his presidency, Biden visited the Pentagon and announced a task force that will form a policy to counter China during his term in the White House after he called Beijing “our most serious competitor.”
Biden told workers at the Pentagon that the U.S. will “meet the China challenge” by taking a “whole-of-government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships.”
Since his meeting, relations between the two countries have only worsened. The U.S. has been unhappy with Beijing’s soft support for Russia during the Ukraine War and what it sees as unfair trade policy. Tensions have also spiked over Taiwan and the recent skirmish over weather balloons that required a response from F-22s.
The U.S.’s strategy has been criticized publicly by Chinese President Xi Jinping who said the U.S. is trying to contain the country economically and encircle it militarily. One of China’s top complaints is about the U.S. restricting companies in China from buying products for its semiconductor industry.
Stanley Chao, the former executive vice president of U.S. chipmaker Kingston Technology, wrote in Nikkei Asia that the goal of the Biden administration is to “restrain China’s advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and ballistic missile development.”
Yellen said the U.S. has no intention of stifling China’s economy.
The New York Times wrote that Yellen’s speech “struck a pragmatic but notably positive tone following months of heightened tensions between the nations.”
Beijing seemed less than impressed by Yellen’s tone.
Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, accused the U.S. of weaponizing technology and trade issues “in the name of national security,” Voice of America reported.
“The U.S. has been building ‘small yards with high fences’ and pushing for decoupling and fragmenting industrial and supply chains,” Wang said a day after Yellen’s speech. “The true intention of the U.S. is to take away the right to development from China and maintain U.S. supremacy for its selfish interests.”
China, once again, accused Washington of maintaining a “Cold War mentality.”
“Containment and suppression will not make America great again, nor will it stop China from moving towards national rejuvenation,” Qin said.
Cui Tiankai, a former Chinese ambassador to Washington from 2013 to 2021, told the South China Morning Post that regardless who wins the 2024 U.S. presidential elections, he believes there will be “much turbulence in the China-US relationship. There may even be some shocking and perilous events taking place.”