America’s China Policy And Public Opinion

America’s China Policy And Public Opinion

In this article, we summarize the recent I.C. report, Biden's public statements about China, and American public opinion on US-China policy.

Raghavan Mayur

To get a 360-degree view of U.S. China policy, we must first examine China's posture in the recently declassified intelligence community (I.C.) report compiled by multiple intelligence agencies and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Intelligence Community's Report

The I.C.'s recent report on election interference by foreign players stated with a high degree of confidence that China did not intervene in the 2020 election.

The report also cited the "minority view" from the National Intelligence Officer for Cyber that “China took some steps to undermine President Trump's reelection chances through social media and official public statements and media.” You can read it here.

The key takeaways from the I.C. report are as follows:

  • China wants a stable relationship with the U.S.
  • It didn't want to tamper with the election and risk negative consequences.
  • China calculated that if President Trump wins a second term, some of his policies would alienate U.S. partners and provide opportunities for China to increase its international clout.
  • On the other hand, China believed that if Biden were elected president, he would de-escalate tensions between the two countries, form a coalition with Western allies, and pressure the country's human rights situation.
  • Also, China believes that its existing influence networks within the U.S. can steer U.S.-China policy.
  • China probably continued its efforts to collect information on U.S. voters and public opinion, political parties, candidates, staff, and senior government officials.

CNN February Townhall

President Biden appeared in a CNN town hall on February 16.  You can read multiple versions of the event here and here.

Anderson Cooper questioned President Biden on the Uyghur situation: "What about the Uyghurs? What about human rights abuses in China?"

Biden: "We must speak up for human rights. It's who we are. We can't — my comment to him (Xi Jinping)was  — and I know him well, and he knows me well. We're — a two-hour conversation.

President Biden spoke about China's history, explained the situation, and stated that he intends to emphasize the United States' human rights values.

Joe biden cnn Townhall

Biden:"If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven't been unified at home ...  to vastly overstate it. The central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses this rationale for the things he does based on that. I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn't reflect the values of the United States. And so the idea I'm not going to speak out against what he's doing in Hong Kong, what he's doing with the Uyghurs in western mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the One China policy by making it forceful, I said — by the way, he said he gets it. Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow."

Uyghur Family Harvesting Grapes
Uyghur Family Harvesting Grapes

Anderson Cooper pressed President Biden further.

Cooper: "When you talk to him, though, about human rights abuses, is that as far as it goes in terms of the U.S.? Or is there any actual repercussions for China?"

Biden: "Well, there will be repercussions for China. And he knows that. What I'm doing is making clear that we, in fact, are going to continue to reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the U.N. and other agencies that have an impact on their attitude."

When asked if China was already too powerful to be held accountable for its human rights violations, Biden expressed confidence that human rights would triumph.

"China is trying very hard to become the world leader. And to get that moniker and be able to do that, they have to gain the confidence of other countries. And as long as they are engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it's going to be hard for them to do that.”

President Biden’s Press Conference

Here are the key takeaways from President Biden's first press conference on March 24:

  • Biden said U.S. science and technology investment as a percentage of GDP had decreased significantly in recent decades. He stated that his administration would push for significant funding increases in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and other fields.
  • Biden plans to host a summit of democracies in which China's expansion behavior will be a major topic of discussion.
  • Biden remained silent when asked if his administration is considering a ban on Chinese goods made with forced labor.
  • He promised to hold China accountable for its human rights violations, including the internment of more than a million Uyghurs.
Joe biden addressing media

Americans' View On US-China Policy

In a TIPP poll conducted in late February, we asked Americans, "Generally speaking, how confident are you that U.S. foreign policy towards China under Biden will be well-thought-out and strong?" Forty-nine percent said confident, and 36% not confident.  Fifteen percent were not sure.

  • 23% said very confident,
  • 26% said somewhat confident
  • 14% not very confident
  • 23% not at all confident

Older Americans are not confident, while younger Americans are,

  • 41% of age 18 to 25 are confident
  • 51% of age 25 to 44 are confident
  • 45% of age 45 to 64 are confident
  • 51% of age 65+ are not confident
TIPP Poll Results, Americas view on US China Policy

Americans’ confidence is also divided along party lines and political ideology:

  • 74% of Democrats are confident
  • 67% of Republicans are not confident
  • 47% of Independents are not confident
  • 55% of conservative are not confident
  • 46% of moderates are confident
  • 72% of liberals are confident
TIPP Poll Results, Americas view on US China Policy along party and political ideology

According to national security experts, the U.S. China policy will be the #1 foreign policy agenda. tippinsights will be on top of the issue, providing timely updates of American public opinion on this topic.

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