Trump and Biden launch battle over China that could define 2020 election
The attack provides a glimpse of a hot accusation likely to dominate the fall – directly blaming millions of lost jobs and tens of thousands in the United States for Trump, who, according to the announcement, left the ‘America “without preparation and without protection”.
It is a sign of the disjointed and globalized era that a virus that appeared in a city in central China unknown to most Americans could potentially define an American presidential election.
But the president’s struggle to find a way out of the worst domestic crisis since World War II – exacerbated by a series of faux pas linked to his relations with Beijing – will likely decide his fate in November.
The conflagration on China is also significant because it is much more than the virus. It exposes the temperaments, worldviews and economic and political instincts different from rivals.
And American-Chinese relations crystallize multiple forces that shape American politics – the industrial scourge in the Midwest electoral battlefields, the trade wars, Trump First America nationalism, the challenge to American influence in Asia and denial of the President’s climate change.
But whoever wins the political confrontation over China, one thing is clear: it will cause a further deterioration of what experts say is the most important economic, diplomatic and security relationship in the world.
Trump’s Chinese bet
Trump’s early attack on Biden against China – although it may prove effective, given his skills in hammering out a negative story – is also risky because it reveals his own political responsibilities.
The president’s weeks of praise for Xi, who initially seemed to use autocratic power to hide the extent of the pandemic, left him open to accusations of hypocrisy.
“China has worked very hard to contain the coronavirus,” Trump tweeted on January 24, during which time he now accuses the World Health Organization of colluding in a cover-up with Beijing.
“The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and their transparency. Everything will be fine. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!”
Trump’s 2020 campaign attempts to turn weakness into strength, bloating Biden with ads that claim that he, and not Trump, went slowly to Beijing.
“China wants Sleepy Joe so badly,” Trump wrote in a magnifying tweet on the campaign on Saturday.
“They want all of the billions of dollars they paid in the United States, and much more. Joe is an easy brand, their DREAM CANDIDATE!”
Trump made his harsh approach to China a signature of his presidency, triggering a tariff war that dismayed the traditional Republican Party free trade lobby and raised prices for American consumers.
But China has also exploited the reversal of Trump’s U.S. engagement to leverage its influence – especially after the U.S. withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, an attempt to balance Beijing’s growing economic power. .
Chinese policy on both sides of Trump: Bash Beijing while praising Xi
Trump’s powerful allies in the conservative media are already highlighting Beijing’s failures at a time when more objective media is also dwelling on Trump’s mistakes.
Beating China is a tradition in American presidential elections: Bill Clinton, for example, criticized President George H.W. Bush for pampering the tyrants in Beijing, and then as president took important steps to encourage their economic emergence.
Trump transformed tactics into a form of political art in 2016, accusing China of “raping our country” – an effective message in the swinging Midwest States emptied of job leaks abroad.
A battle for Rust Belt voters in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin could elect elections in 2020 and the President will trumpet his efforts to stand up to China.
Trump transformed American-Chinese politics
Unlike many of Trump’s political attacks, his critique of China has some bearing on the truth and attracts bipartisan support.
Many countries are questioning China’s response to the coronavirus epidemic and the transparency of its case count, even now.
Distinguishing Beijing plays in another piece of Trump’s campaign – the idea that a foreign force is threatening American life and culture. In 2016, Mexicans played this role. It is now China’s turn, raising concerns about a brutal reaction against the Asian Americans.
New Trump campaign accuses Biden of defending China as “China paralyzes America”, showing clips of former vice president saying it is in the interests of the United States that China prosper .
A pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, detonates “Beijing Biden” in a $ 10 million ad in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Trump’s announcement distorts and takes some of Biden’s positions out of context. But the president’s team can reasonably assert that Biden is a veteran of a previous era of Sino-American relations, when successive presidents saw the need to manage the rise of Beijing to avoid a confrontation that now seems more and more likely.
Critics of this approach on both sides of the aisle now claim that it has empowered a future American enemy. And Trump has designed the most important pivot in nearly 50 years of US-China relations.
The President can also rightly argue that previous American administrations, including that of which Biden was vice-president, have not prevented commercial abuse and theft of intellectual property in Beijing.
Biden, as a senator from Delaware, voted to grant China permanent normal trade relations during the Clinton administration – a move that unleashed the economy of the Asian giant but also contributed to the rush of manufacturing jobs in the United States. the stranger. This gives Trump the opportunity to argue that Biden was an accomplice to the “American carnage” that resulted, in an effort to undermine the solid support of the Democrat’s blue-collar workers.
The attack on China also has another attraction for the president.
Trump last year called on Beijing to launch an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter, alleging that they had received a Chinese payment worth billions of dollars.
A company on the board of directors of which Hunter Biden later served received a large investment of Chinese capital shortly after visiting the country with his father. Counsel for Hunter Biden said his client had received no compensation for serving on the company’s board of directors, BHR, had received no return on investment and that there had been no distribution to BHR shareholders since he obtained his stake after the vice-president left office. .
But as Trump showed in his assault on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, the slightest irregularity and questions about conflicts of interest can give her an opening, despite her own opaque and extensive trade relationships, which ‘He tried to keep away from the American people by refusing to release his tax returns.
Biden can turn Trump’s attacks on him
The great weakness of China’s Trump attack on Biden is anchored in his own campaign announcement, in which the former vice president is pictured clinking glasses with Xi.
Whenever he is attacked, Biden can raise the long list of occasions when Trump has praised China’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I just spoke to President Xi last night,” said Trump in North Carolina on February 7. “But I think he’s going to take care of it. I think he’s taken care of it very well. We help wherever we can. But we have a great relationship. It’s amazing.”
The president has since tried to blame China and the WHO, when critics showed that he disastrously underestimated the threat of the virus.
“I was very happy with the deal, very happy with everything, then we find out about the plague, right? The plague. And since we found out about this, I’m not happy,” said Trump Sunday, repeatedly repeating what he calls his travel ban to China that came into effect in late January. The President restricted the entry of foreign nationals who had recently visited China. But about 40,000 other people entered the United States after a recent trip to the country following the imposition of the restrictions.
The Biden campaign reacted quickly to Trump’s escalation and also confuses the president on the “phase one” trade agreement under which Beijing agreed to increase US agricultural purchases from the United States in exchange for a stop a $ 250 billion increase in customs duties on imports from China.
The pact did not lift most of the tariffs harming American consumers, but improved access to American products and banks in Chinese markets. Key issues like theft of intellectual property remain unresolved. however.
“President Trump’s bogus attacks on Vice President Biden are just another attempt to divert the president’s attention from the Democratic refusal to stand up to China for American workers and, more importantly, today for his failure to prepare our country for the coronavirus pandemic, “said Democratic Senator Sherrod. Brown of Ohio, a Biden supporter, told reporters Friday.