Presidential candidates identify China as a national security threat. But they're vague on how they'd tackle the economic, technological and human-rights threats posed by the world’s largest authoritarian power, Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes as part of our "What Matters 2020" series.
- Why it matters: The Communist Party is seeking to reshape the world in its own image and amass enough power to marginalize the U.S. and western allies regardless of whether China is contending with Trump for another four years — or one of his Democratic rivals.
Details: Under Xi Jinping, China is leveraging economic ties as one of the world’s top traders to counter U.S. foreign policy goals.
- It's setting global standards in telecommunications and surveillance technology, giving Beijing far-reaching power over data and privacy.
- It's weakening human rights standards. In October, after ambassadors from 23 UN countries backed a statement denouncing the cultural genocide in Xinjiang, 54 countries came to China’s defense.
- China constrains free speech even inside the U.S. It has successfully muted criticism of its policies among leading U.S. companies, institutions, and even Hollywood.
Trump has alternated between confronting and appeasing Beijing.
- He's demanded that Beijing adopt trade policies that reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China and support U.S. manufacturing.
- He's filled his administration with China hawks, and the FBI is taking on Chinese intellectual property theft at U.S. institutions.
- But Trump has shied away from condemning human rights violations.
The Democrats have largely stuck to vague pronouncements:
- Joe Biden wants to restore a pre-Trump traditionalist foreign policy.
- Elizabeth Warren prescribes multilateralism and better economic policies to counter China’s authoritarianism.
- Pete Buttigieg characterizes the nature of the China challenge as the "international expansion of authoritarian capitalism."
- Andrew Yang is a one-issue candidate when it comes to China: technology.
- Bernie Sanders has said it is "absolutely possible for us to have a positive working relationship with China," and has detailed plans to revamp the U.S.-China economic relationship to improve the lives of American workers.
- Michael Bloomberg has praised top Chinese officials and pressed for engagement with China.
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- 🇹🇼 Breaking: "Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, has won a landslide victory in a hotly contested election, dealing a stinging rebuke to Beijing's efforts to control the island's democratic government." (NPR)