The rancorous dust-up between U.S. and Chinese officials that occurred during a key meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, last week reflects, in essence, a good news/bad news story.
The all-important good news is that the Biden administration's Beijing policy appears to be following strong precedents established by its Trump predecessors which are building upon a coalition of Indio-Pacific allies to resist Chinese military invasions of South China Sea territories, defend Taiwan independence against a Chinese mainland takeover and enlist Canadian and European support in applying sanctions against genocidal Chinese civil rights abuses of its Uyghur population.
The bad news is that these constructive and necessary positions are being undermined by destructive red herring moral equivalency narratives of U.S. human rights abuses advanced by the Biden administration's own far-left wing. Even worse, are nutty and dangerous notions that America should kill its fossil energy independence from adversaries and join with China to fight the common "greatest existential threat," climate change.
Whereas the two sides had originally agreed to hold their opening remarks to two minutes each, the discussion immediately led to a far longer acrimonious exchange.
Although Secretary of State Antony Blinken kept his remarks short and relatively hospitable, he expressed strong U.S. concerns with Chinese actions. Included were imprisonment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang reeducation camps, violating its treaty with Britain over Hong Kong independence, menacing an invasion of Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies which "threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability."
Virtually quoting from prevalent Biden administration narratives, China's Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Director, Yang Jiechi, followed with a 20-minute-long lecture (including translation) about America's weakness in addressing its own sins.
Asserting the superiority of "Chinese-style democracy," Yang suggested that America, by its own self-loathing admission, is a racist society that slaughters Black people. Therefore, America has no morally equivalent standing to criticize them.
Rather than disputing the outrageous indictment characterizing America as racist and oppressive, Blinken lamely responded that the U.S. "acknowledges our imperfections, acknowledges that we're not perfect, we make mistakes, we have reversals, we take steps back" but we make progress again.
While it's true that America does take steps to recognize and address past mistakes, in doing so, our citizenry abhors and rejects prejudicial oppression of anyone based upon racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and/or religious grounds.
Secretary Blinken was hamstrung in defending his country from these egregious mischaracterizations by the Beijing delegation's weaponization of his own administration's media rhetoric.
So far, the Biden administration has been taking some constructive China policy actions.
National Security Director Jake Sullivan was dispatched in advance of the Anchorage meeting to engage in strategic discussions with leaders of Indio-Pacific allies Australia, Japan and India who are struggling with China over territory and/or facing economic disputes.
Collectively known as the "Quad countries," this important cooperative collaboration was established by the Trump administration.
Secretary Blinken had also traveled to Japan ahead of the Alaska meeting — as well as to South Korea where he struck a U.S. troop deployment deal in response to what he called China's "coercion and aggression" in the region.
And whereas Beijing likely hoped to see evidence that the Biden administration would return to the Chinese accommodation policies of the Obama-Biden period, the U.S., along with Canadian and European allies, leveled sanctions over repression of Muslim Uyghurs.
The coordinated blacklisting actions froze assets and imposed travel bans on those targeted … the first such use of human rights sanctions against China since the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989.
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Biden administration diplomacy, strategy, and grit will address China's greatest threat — a prospective rapid strike invasion of Taiwan, a democratic U.S. ally and important global semiconductor production center.
President Xi Jinping has made it clear that retaking Taiwan is a priority, and many believe it is only a matter of time before China, with its massive and rapidly expanding build-up of military capabilities, acts on that goal.
We can be certain that other major American and Western adversaries will be carefully monitoring and testing the Biden administration for disastrous lessons learned — if any — since Joe was vice president.
Under previous Obama-Biden lead-from-behind policies, Russia grabbed Crimea, invaded eastern Ukraine and moved into Syria; China appropriated international islands for military bases in the South China Sea; and Tehran spread U.S. "Iran Nuclear Deal"-subsidized terrorism via proxy throughout the Middle East.
Regarding the latter, Beijing and Moscow can be counted on to be watching for all signs of renewed weakness as the U.S. resumes negotiations with testy Tehran mullahs over possible future nuclear sanction concessions.
More directly impactful regarding Beijing policies, the Biden administration has rejoined the Paris Agreement, while China gets a 15-year free pass. This has occurred as China and India which have represented 80% of the emission increases and are not bound to the pact, are dramatically ramping up coal and oil development.
Meanwhile, the so-called "Biden Build Back Better Plan" has simultaneously crunched U.S. fossil energy independence from adversarial countries while embarking on an all-out windmill and sunbeam electric vehicle fantasy which will make America dependent on Chinese rare earth materials, lithium for batteries in particular.
Although the biggest hydrocarbon export beneficiaries would be Saudi Arabia and Russia, China stands to gain the most.
While China has a robust oil industry — in fact the world's fifth largest — its output falls far short of what it needs to fuel the globe's second largest economy. As a result, the country is also by far the world's largest oil importer (75% of its petroleum consumption).
Beijing recognizes this import dependence as a major strategic weakness in dealing with assured oil import supply chains, territorial conflicts and economic competition involving the U.S.
Republican lawmakers have warned that Beijing can be expected to use climate negotiations as a wedge issue for gaining other policy advantages. During Secretary Blinken's confirmation hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told him, "I hope you're never tempted to give in in your strategy with regards to China to obtain a climate advantage that [former] Secretary Kerry might be promoting."
Whereas we don't know what the two opposing delegations discussed regarding this topic in Alaska, the subject was, reportedly, on the agenda.
In any case, don't possibly imagine it led to any good news.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.