As President Trump prepares to exit the White House ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration of incoming President Joe Biden, he’s still busy ensuring that his agenda of pushing back against China will be protected.
Trump ordered on Friday that federal agencies must find ways to reduce their dependence on Chinese goods and services as concerns of Chinese espionage and infiltration increase.
Striking a blow
Though rarely reported by mainstream media outlets, President Trump has strongly opposed the Chinese Communist Party’s influence for years, ramping up his punitive measures against the Chinese government within the last year due to COVID-19.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien announced in a statement on Friday that “Trump directed departments and agencies to review applicable laws, regulations, and policies and to propose regulatory and policy changes, including potential executive actions, to minimize the procurement of People’s Republic of China (PRC) goods and services by the Federal Government.”
Trump’s goals in ordering the policy changes are to prevent “technical and human espionage activities directed at the Federal Government,” O’Brien said. “Today, President Trump took another step to do just that.”
President Trump also continues to pressure China on the issue of the abuse of the Muslim-majority Uyghur ethnic group, recently banning the import of cotton or tomato products from China’s Xinjiang province, where Uyghurs are primarily located and enslaved.
Destroying Trump’s legacy
The Trump administration has long fingered the Chinese government as one of the greatest threats to the US’s national security, though incoming President Joe Biden does not appear to agree.
In fact, leftists have pounced on Biden as the perfect candidate to reverse the aggressive pushback against the communist giant, with The Atlantic arguing that Biden should focus on “scaling back punitive and self-defeating tariffs and technological barriers, slowing the arms race with China, and abandoning efforts to encircle the mainland with a hostile ring of military alliances” as his priorities in formulating his diplomatic relations with China.
Biden himself has given few clues about his true intentions in regard to China, but if his time in the Obama administration is any indication of how Biden will approach China, the outlook isn’t good for those worried about the rising power.
Sure, Biden has said in the past that he plans to “get tough” with China, but has also criticized Trump’s actually tough approach at every turn.
Biden wrote in the March/April 2020 edition of Foreign Affairs that the US needs to cooperate with China on “issues where our interests converge, such as climate change, [nuclear] nonproliferation, and global health security,” while still confronting “China’s abusive behaviors and human rights violations.”
However, Biden still hasn’t provided a plan to confront China’s behavior, making it unlikely that he will allow the Trump administration’s pattern of aggressive crackdown.