2020 may have started on a bad note for the population of the world but it did end with a good note for this one country and that is the United States of America. The United States finally said goodbye to their most controversial president Donald Trump and with a landslide victory welcomed Joe Biden as their new president. Trump’s years in office have had a lot of downs from poor healthcare response for coronavirus to the immigration topic he has had a lot of failures and now as a successor, the weight falls on Biden to correct the many wrongs. One of the many issues created and unchecked by the Trump government is Russia and China. During Trump’s reign, America maintained civil relations with Russia, however, the current status is anything but civil.
Amidst the ongoing clash between these three superpowers America, Russia, and China, president Joe Biden has said that his government will stand up to Russia and China, however, he has also said that unlike his predecessor’s ways he would work closely with international organizations, governments, and allies to present a united front against these two countries. It is safe to say that the Trump administration did close to nothing and viewed the whole of China and Russia mostly through a realpolitik lens, introducing the world to a new era of foreign relations. Unlike Trump, Biden is bent on viewing the complete situation with an ideological point of view, regarding the situation as more than just a power contest between major nations. The administration views the conflict as a struggle of like-minded nations against the rise of authoritarianism.
It is safe to say that it will not be an easy task for the Biden administration as the United States relations with Moscow and Beijing have never been this ugly. For the past decade, the relations have had its strain but the condition now is amongst the worst of international relations, this may however continue since Biden had shown no intention to soften his approach. The problem arises with the United States having a constrained defense budget due to stimulus spending, meanwhile, China has increasingly sophisticated technology. Russia is known for its geopolitical adventurism, thus could be a potential threat to the Biden administration the same it was to the Obama administration in 2014 during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden is most likely to tip towards human rights as a key strategy for his dealings with China and Moscow. However the Trump administration did impose sanctions on Russia and China for abusing human rights, the State Department also issued condemnatory statements, regardless it has been seen that Trump was mostly silent during such an issue and has many times sided with the leaders of the respective nations. There have been many statements and reports of Trump favoring the human rights violations committed by China and Moscow, Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton revealed some private conversations between Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, where the former president appeared to be endorsing the use of internment camps for the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Trump has also been reported expressing shared hatred over news media and bonding over the same with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite the long-standing concerns regarding press freedom in Russia.
On Dec. 2 during an interview with columnist Thomas Friedman of New York Times, Biden refused to undo the 25 percent tariffs that the Trump administration placed on several Chinese goods or an initial deal that requires China to buy U.S goods and services worth $200 billion over 2 years. Biden said he wouldn’t immediately make any changes to the above-mentioned sanctions he would however have a period of review. Biden during the interview said, “The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our — or at least what used to be our — allies on the same page”. Biden also stressed working towards working for better relations with the allies and bringing everyone on the same page, “It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies.”
What is the topic of discord among these three nations America, Russia, and China?
Russia and America haven’t had the best of relationship from the very beginning of Russia’s formation, however, the real trouble began in 2012 when Vladimir Putin returned to power and was convinced that Hillary Clinton had supported his rivals to keep him away from the office. Also, the reported involvement of Russia in the 2016 U.S elections did little to lessen the gap between these two countries. In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea which falls under the territory of Ukraine, this gave birth to a new set of problems involving the disregard of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. This treaty was signed by Ukraine, Russia, UK, the USA, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.
The United States and China are somewhat In a frenemy relationship. The issues that challenged this steady relationship are democracy, espionage, territorial claims, and human rights. Some of these claims are a deliberate attempt by the Trump administration concerning their aggressive China policies. However, these issues did not create a negative public opinion but since the outbreak of the coronavirus the Americans, as well as the rest of the world’s public, have changed their views regarding China. This shift in opinion of the masses has created a challenge for the newly elected president Joe Biden.
The approach Biden has taken regarding these issues.
An aggressive approach to deal with these two superpowers that are China and Russia will do no good to America, Russia may not have a stronger military as compared to America but it has held its ground for years. As for China, America can by no means approach aggressively since China has the most sophisticated technology and weaponry and no nation in the world has been able to compete with China regarding this matter.
Biden has stated that his focus is on ending China’s coercive economic tactics including belligerent government subsidies for Chinese investors and corporations including intellectual property theft. He has also mentioned an ambitious industrial policy that would focus on investing in American energy, infrastructure, biotech, and other such sectors to strengthen America’s competition with the Chinese. With regards to Russia Biden entered office a little over two weeks before the expiry of the New Start treaty that was signed by Russia and the United States on 8 April 2010 in Prague and came into force after ratification on 5 February 2011. Trump suggested a negotiation for a new accord, however, Biden sought an extension of 5 years on the original treaty and talked about pursuing other arms control endeavors with Russia.
Biden also suggested a change in the nuclear doctrines of the United States stating that the sole purpose of the American nuclear weapons is to respond to or deter a nuclear attack by an adversary, however, this suggestion might not receive the green light from the Republican members of the Congress as well as the US military. President Obama during the end of his term suggested a similar “no first use” policy but it never saw the light of day. Biden stressed regaining the support of the many European allies of the US and working with them towards a shared goal.
There you have it all about Biden’s approach towards the rising problems with Russia and China. The key element of Biden’s approach is gaining the support of the United States allies. Working together towards a shared goal is the best defense strategy the United States can adopt at the moment.