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Washington Post columnist hits Biden administration's lack of results on China despite frequent engagement

A Washington Post world opinions columnist hit the Biden administration Thursday for a lack of results after multiple overtures to the Chinese government.

Washington Post global opinions columnist Josh Rogin called out the Biden administration for failing to attain meaningful victories while negotiating with China in a recent article.

Growing tensions and open conflict around the world have put America’s relationship with China in the spotlight. As what many call a "near-peer" power and a member of the BRICS grouping of countries that is sometimes compared to NATO, many are eager for America to have cooperative negotiations with China and its leader, Xi Jinping. Rogin called out the Biden administration Thursday for what he viewed as its lack of accomplishments in this regard.

"This week, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo became the latest high-ranking U.S. official to journey to China to engage with the country’s top leaders. It was a worthy effort. But now it has played out, and the Chinese government hasn’t budged," he wrote. "As President Biden would say: What’s the plan, Stan?"

He went on to observe the Biden administration has made serious efforts with multiple high-level officials to shore up the United States’ relationship with China.


"The administration’s theory was that reestablishing high-level dialogue with Beijing might ‘build a floor’ under the ever-worsening bilateral relationship. Biden has said he doesn’t want a Cold War with China," Rogin wrote. "So Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, special envoy for climate John F. Kerry and now Raimondo have each spent significant time and effort traveling to China over the past three months."

He went on to argue, "now is a good moment to look at the results — or lack thereof," and proceeded to blast their efforts as unproductive.

"Despite meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in June, Blinken came home empty-handed; the Chinese government wouldn’t even agree to establish a military-to-military crisis hotline," he wrote. 

Rogin proceeded to slam Raimondo for having "set expectations so low that her announcement of two new dialogues to manage U.S.-China economic tensions might seem like progress," but it was "anything but." He proposed that these scheduled discussions are "exactly how Beijing dodges U.S. and international concerns about its behavior," noting that the United States deliberately avoids taking action that may upset China’s government shortly before the planned meeting takes place.

"In fact, the Biden administration decided in its first year to avoid old patterns of establishing empty dialogues with China as alibis for progress," he wrote. "And, yet, here we are." 


Rogin noted that Raimondo’s "tightrope walk" between hawkishness and trying to build a better relationship with China "will soon be put to the test," claiming that "Raimondo is set to announce the final implementation rules for the Biden administration’s toughest high-technology export restrictions to date."

He added that while the premise of this idea that the U.S. should "encourage trade while protecting sensitive national security technology" may be correct in theory, "[t]he problem is that the Chinese are not buying into it." 

"During her visit, Beijing offered no concessions and signaled no policy changes. Meanwhile, China is cracking down on the flow of economic and financial data, raiding foreign firms, weaning itself off the U.S. dollar and stockpiling food and commodities," he noted. "Beijing’s actions show that it is preparing for the international economic climate to get worse, not better."

"All of these policy changes do not make sense if the goal is to promote long-term economic growth, but they could make sense if they are meant to help endure a conflict with the West," the director of the Wilson Center’s Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition, Mark Kennedy, told Rogin. 

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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