Less than 48 hours after U.S. and British intelligence officials called a rising China “the most game-changing challenge we face,” President Joe Biden stood poised to remove tariffs from Chinese products — while doubling down on plans to foist controversial social-engineering policies on the U.S. military.
On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray and the leader of the UK’s MI5, Ken McCallum, warned that “the Chinese Communist Party” presents most pressing geostrategic and economic threat facing the West. “The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology … and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market,” said Wray in London.
But observers say the Biden administration’s actions cut the legs out from under Wray’s rhetoric. “On the one hand, you have FBI Director Wray saying this, but on the other hand, [Biden] shut down the China Initiative, which was a concerted program the Trump administration put in place to go after these professors, these researchers, these businessmen that are infiltrating our businesses at the direction of the Chinese Communist Party to steal our technology,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Friday afternoon.
The danger remains palpable, as a federal grand jury indicted two members of the Department of Homeland Security for aiding Chinese espionage. On Friday, Chinese warplanes made an incursion into the airspace of Taiwan as U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) visited the island. Between those incidents, Chinese General Li Zuocheng told the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, Thursday that America must end military “collusion” with Taiwan or “they will be met with the firm counterattack from the Chinese people.”
China’s People’s Liberation Army has achieved “the most rapid military modernization … in modern history,” said Rep. Waltz. “The Chinese are quadrupling the size of their nuclear weapons fleet.”
“NASA just put out a warning that the Chinese are on track to militarize the moon. They’re putting a brand new space station up. They have hypersonic weapons. And [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] is telling his country, when it comes to Taiwan, prepare for war,” said Rep. Waltz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
“What are we doing? We’re focused on pronouns. We’re focused on Pride Month. And now the Army is” considering discharging and withholding pay from “60,000 soldiers, 20% of the National Guard and the Reserves, because they have concerns over a vaccine,” Waltz said in pique. The Biden administration also decreed that soldiers must shower with transgender enlistees who have the genitalia of the opposite sex. As the administration unveiled these new policies, military recruitment has fallen so far short of its goals that officials briefly considered eliminating the requirement to have a high school diploma or GED.
“We’re not focused on the right things,” Waltz declared.
Meanwhile, indications are the president will press forward with his plan to economically reward Beijing. Biden said Friday he had made no decision about lifting tariffs, but a “senior administration official” told Politico that decision the administration already finalized plans to lift some tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in 2018; only the timing of the announcement remained in question.
“What the Biden administration should be doing is forcing American companies off Chinese soil,” China expert Gordon Chang told Perkins Thursday. “Unfortunately, President Biden has been taking actions to encourage American companies to stay in China,” including telegraphing his intention to reduce tariffs.
Critics say even when the Democratic administration intends to thwart the advance of the Chinese Communist Party, it does not go far enough to make a difference. Biden’s Commerce Department leaked that it may restrict chipmaking technology to Chinese plants that have advanced capacity — but would still send the materials to plants, owned by the same firms, if they produce less advanced semiconductors. Such half-steps signal the administration’s fundamental lack of seriousness about confronting Beijing’s bid to replace the United States as the world’s dominant superpower.
The growing military danger requires Biden to get tough with Chinese officials, potentially redirecting U.S. forces away from intimidating Russia in Eastern Europe to the South Pacific. And, Chang stated, it requires the White House to speak with one voice. “We’ve had this policy of strategic ambiguity, where we tell neither Beijing nor Taipei what we would do in the case of imminent conflict” between the two countries, said Chang. That policy “worked in a benign era, but we are no longer in a benign era. We need to be much more specific.”
“The Biden administration, I think, needs to be clear that the United States will defend Taiwan,” Chang said. Yet when Biden has made such statements, administration officials quickly reversed his comments, reportedly frustrating the president.
Instead of clarity, Chang noted, “Beijing has seen … the United States is in disarray, at least under the Biden administration.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.