Determined to eviscerate and reverse Trump's foreign policies and progress with hostile adversaries, the Biden administration has reset China priorities altogether.
Previous primary threats no longer top that list: engagement on Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, intellectual property theft, or Beijing's repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang.
To the inevitable delight of Beijing oligarchs, Biden's new policy priority focuses on a singular issue above all else that plays entirely to their advantage … namely to forego American energy independence for China's support in promoting the administration's climate crisis-premised Green New Deal agendas.
In pursuance of that goal, the Biden administration hosted a virtually streamed 40-nation April 22-23 Earth Day "summit" event where Joe called for slashing U.S. greenhouse emissions by 50% or more by 2030 over a baseline 2005 level, about doubling a 26% to 28% cut by 2025 proposed by the Obama administration.
Led by "climate envoy" John Kerry, the administration's congressionally unratified proclamation is intended to build momentum ahead of a November U.N. climate conference to be held Glasgow, Scotland, where negotiators will likely aim to cap average global annual temperature rises to 1.5 degree Celsius preindustrial levels.
Kerry's earlier dispatch to Shanghai on a mission to solicit China President Xi Jinping's participation in the Earth Day summit provided Beijing leadership with a welcome opportunity to launch a distractive public relations offensive amid heightened tensions between the two countries and bilateral frictions over trade, technology, human rights and attributions of global COVID impacts.
When questioned if he had confronted President Xi during his first official telephone conversation in February whether the Communist Party had misled the world about the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said, "No, I have not had that conversation with President Xi."
Beijing has previously made it clear that it has little interest in following suit with any serious emissions commitments that might impinge on China's economic growth. Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said earlier this month that "Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid that this is not very realistic."
Nevertheless, according to Kerry's report, his Shanghai meetings were a breakthrough negotiating triumph in producing a joint statement that the two sides are "committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis."
Kerry's Beijing counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, also suggested the possibility of "enhancing" non-binding commitments that leader Xi Jinping made last September, to reach "peak" carbon emissions before 2030, and to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060.
Vice-premier Han Zheng ironically told Kerry that "China welcomes the U.S. return to the Paris Agreement, and expects the U.S. side to uphold the agreement."
And why wouldn't they cheer when a new U.S. administration voluntarily kills a shale natural gas boom that has kept global energy prices low and made America independent of foreign oil?
As the Biden administration re-ups with Paris, China which is dramatically ramping up coal development, gets a free pass. Its commitment under Paris to reduce emissions doesn't even begin until 2030.
Chinese leaders care little about Paris because they know it binds them to nothing, while Western nations will harm their economies with new regulation and misallocated "green" resources.
As a Reuters dispatch in February put it: "China approved the construction of a further 36.9 GW of coal-fired capacity last year, three times more than a year earlier, bringing the total under construction to 88.1 GW."
Meanwhile, despite Trump's 2017 withdrawal from the Paris pact, American carbon emissions have kept falling. Thanks to a shale drilling revolution, in 2019 U.S. CO2 emissions hit their lowest level since 1992, and their lowest per capita since 1950.
The Biden administration's clueless carbon-cutting cooperation canard awards a huge gift to Beijing. China gains leverage over America in establishing admittedly unserious and unrealistic climate concessions as key bargaining chits in bi-lateral economic and trade policies while simultaneously sidetracking discussions on far more important issues.
On top of that, China controls 80% of the global rare earth minerals, including lithium, that will be needed to supply those so-called green "technologies to decarbonize industry and power."
We can be certain that other major American and Western adversaries — Russia, and Iran in particular — will also test and exploit weaknesses as the Biden administration fecklessly reverses former Trump policies with them.
Recall that under previous Obama-Biden leadership, Russia grabbed Crimea, invaded eastern Ukraine and moved into Syria. Tehran spread then-Secretary of State John Kerry's "Iran Nuclear Deal"-subsidized terrorism via proxy throughout the Middle East.
Deja vu has a pesky, often frightening habit of returning.
Russia is once again staging a massive buildup of Su-30 fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, armored units, and as many as between 80,000 and 100,000 troops on the Crimean peninsula near the Ukraine border. This is potentially larger than the force they deployed when they seized Crimea in 2014 and invaded eastern Ukraine.
CIA Director William Burns told Congress that the Russian development sends a message to both the Ukrainian government and the Biden administration that should be taken very seriously.
In an apparent response, the Biden administration also dispatched climate envoy Kerry to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in India to apply his "negotiating talent" — as Human Rights Foundation chairman Garry Kasparov describes — as "getting nothing for something."
As presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aka., Iran Nuclear Deal, also negotiated by former Obama-Biden Secretary of State Kerry. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018.
Throughout the course of JCOPA, Iran continued to enrich uranium up to a near nuclear weapons level of 60% purity, along with unrestricted progress in developing intercontinental delivery missiles.
Unsurprisingly, China and Russia both supported JCPOA, and just as unsurprisingly, Israel didn't. The latter is suspected of demonstrating their displeasure by conducting an April 12 cyberattack on Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.
We can be certain that 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 in pursuit of another bad deal.
Maybe we voters should begin to pay close attention also.
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
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