Joe Biden photo:VCG
US President Joe Biden was officially sworn into office on Wednesday in Washington. In Biden’s inauguration speech, he devoted a large segment to call on American people to end their divisions and achieve unity. “I will be a president for all Americans,” he said. Biden listed five major challenges faced by the US: “a raging virus, a stinging inequity, systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world.” He talked very little about international issues and did not mention China in the entire speech.
This is an inaugural speech that clearly focused on US domestic issues. Many analysts believe that the focus of the Biden administration’s early governance is the domestic issues he listed. Biden obviously wants to at least partially bridge the divisions in the US society and restore a certain degree of unity in the country. Biden is asking the US to do its own things well in order to rejuvenate the country.
In the Global Times’ view, Biden’s vision is closer to the reality of the US. He is much more rational than his predecessor Donald Trump who attributed a large number of US domestic problems to external factors. And a very important point is: China can be a partner with the US in fighting COVID-19, resolving climate problems and promoting growth. Compared with confrontational policies, the China-US cooperation is obviously more conducive to realizing Washington’s new ambitions.
However, the work of the Biden administration will undoubtedly be difficult. The US is facing more difficulties than it did four years ago. Its available resources are even less abundant. And the Democratic Party, which the new US government relies on, has only limited advantages in Congress. In addition, US public opinion regards Biden as a “weak president.” Trump, who has stepped down, may maintain a considerable amount of political mobilization. The resistance that the Biden administration is facing should not be underestimated.
Unity is a good wish, and it is often the victor’s call. But the attitude of the defeated is a short plank that determines how much water a barrel can hold. The mid-term elections will be held in two years. They will almost certainly see another round of fierce political fighting. The US society has to constantly switch between division and unity, thereby making political balances far more difficult to reach.
However, President Biden has shown his courage to face the problem squarely despite it is difficult to unite. He regards it as the most important goal the US should strive to achieve right now. If both the US and China focus on doing their own things well and stop fighting against each other, the two countries will move forward based on their existing foundations. From this, the world will also be much more harmonious.
Of course, things will not be that simple. After four years of mobilization by the Trump administration, the US society’s perceptions and attitudes toward China have changed a lot. The idea of a hard-line containment against China is popular in the US. People have noticed that Taiwan’s representative to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, was invited to Biden’s inauguration ceremony. This has never happened before. Biden’s secretary of state pick Antony Blinken said at a hearing on Tuesday that Trump “was right in taking a tougher approach to China.” Time will answer what these messages mean during the transition period.
One thing is very important. During the past four years, China-US relations have deteriorated. All conflicts have been provoked by Washington. Beijing has merely been responding and making countermoves. The results of the repeated conflicts prove at least two things. First, China is absolutely a defender, instead of a provocateur, in the series of conflicts with the US. Second, China is powerful and it cannot be easily brought down or suffocated by the US’ containment and suppression strategies. Trump’s China’s policy has been a failure. This is evident from the comparison of the two countries’ development situation as he stepped down Wednesday. The restart of China-US cooperation is more in line with the US’ overall interests.
The US society’s favorability toward China has indeed declined in the past four years. But the Biden administration does not need to believe that the continuation of the previous administration’s China policy is by any means a form of political correctness. The reality is that less confrontation and more cooperation represent deep parts of public opinion in all countries. China and the US have large scale of cooperation, and it is clearly in the American people’s huge interests. No matter what some politicians and media say about cooperation, American people will have a judgment in their hearts.