Prior to his inauguration, Biden said China was not a competitor, but after occupying the White Hose, Biden says China is a serious competitor. In Biden’s first 100 days in the U.S. Presidency, he became more and more assertive in confronting China. He led a team to build a foreign policy centered around China. Some political analysts say that Biden has a doctrine - Competition of governance system with China. The U.S. does not spread democracy nor promote it at gun point but shows that she can deliver democracy at home and abroad (by success!). Of course, Biden’s challenge is to bring his Administrative team (which may have different ideas), the entire nation (which has a broad political spectrum) and the U.S. allies (which have geopolitical differences and complex bilateral economic relations with China and with each other) together to embrace his doctrine in U.S. foreign policy - Competing with China in efficacy in governance. This competition, if conducted peacefully and gracefully, may be good for the two great nations and the world. However, if conducted unruly, it may bring disaster to the two nations and the world.
There are plenty of essays published warning both the U.S. and China not to engage in a hostile confrontation, a new Cold War or worst in a Hot War. This author makes a bold assumption that the two nuclear-powered nations with plenty of experience in wars and strategical exercises in war prevention will refrain from engaging in any Hot War. Based on what has been happening lately, we may not rule out a Cold War being stimulated between the two nations. Again, there are plenty of analyses of the previous Cold War between the U.S. (and NATO) and the Soviet Union (and Warsaw). Even though the Soviet Union collapsed (out of its own economic failure) but there was no true winner judging on the U.S. current well-being and Russia’s struggling economy. What the Cold War taught us was that arms race led to nowhere but mutual destruction if the Cold War turned into a Hot War. Cold War is just a broad competition included all aspects, economy, trade, technology and military. Since military competition can only lead to mutual destruction, it is logical to conclude that any serious competition between two great nations, such as the U.S. and China, should exclude military competition simply because it is a purposeless and disastrous competition. An easy to understand analogy would be an Olympic competition allowing two contestants using any deadly defensive and offensive weapons to battle each other. Such a suicidal competition is meaningless.
If the above logic is incorporated in Biden’s China policy or foreign policy doctrine - Competition with China in governance efficacy, there may be very good reasons to welcome such a competition as a Cool War (not Cold War), a competition without arms race for the purpose of proving whether or not a democracy system can be successful, superior to all other political systems and suitable as a universal governance system. Under such a condition, a serious competition between the U.S. and China can be a productive one. The title question, Can Biden’s China Policy prove (in)efficacy in democracy, becomes the most intellectually interesting debatable political question. The author cannot claim as a political scientist with expertise in government system, however, from a common-sense point of view, any citizen can pick facts and make analytical arguments to answer the title twin questions. The facts may include history and current events and the analytical arguments can be based on case studies on any existing political system including the U.S. government and the Chinese government. In the following, the author attempts to answer the above twin questions by comparing China with democracy in terms of the efficacy and inefficacy issue.
Efficacy in Democracy
Using China (her government system) to prove efficacy in democracy is an upstream exercise against time. Historically, when People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, it adopted the Stalin’s Communist System which didn’t work well at all for China. The great philosopher and revolutionary Mao Tze Dong tried very hard but failed to lift China’s economy except united the nation with a strong one-party (CCP) tightly controlling the government system. Economically based on a citizen’s welfare standard (prior to 1980), China was in no comparison with democratic country big or small, such as the U.S., Japan and the four little dragons in SE Asia. The West eagerly attributed China’s poor GDP per ca-pita to the CCP governance, however without seriously differentiating its governing system versus policies nor carefully excluding the sanctioning effect the West imposed on China. It was too convenient to use China (prior to 1979) to prove efficacy in democracy before China's inclusion into the West economic system. When China was finally admitted to the UN and recognized by the U.S., she opened up to the West learning nearly everything except accepting the one-person-one-vote democracy. China began to improve in her economy with her rigorous five-year economic development plans continuously for several decades till today being the world’s second largest economy and world’s largest purchasing power. This achievement was all under the governance of the CCP. Of course, CCP has been evolving and adapting but it has remained as the only dominant party in the Chinese government system.
Inefficacy in Democracy
China’s rapid rise was a surprise to many people around the world but it had dawned on many politico-economists and a few political analysts that it deserved to be studied. Many China watchers including the author have tracked the progress that China has made across many areas, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, technology, even financial system. The conclusion is clearly leaning towards not just her correct economic development policies but also, to a very significant extent, her efficient government system. For example, China has 15,500 miles of high speed railroads and 100,000 miles super highway crisscross in a grid system, whereas California could not, in ten years, get a single high-speed railroad built from Sacramento to Los Angeles mainly due to civil protests and activists sabotage condoned and abused under a democracy system. China made a national mandate to lift her people from poverty and indeed 900 million extremely poor people were lifted above poverty level so the CCP could claim on its 100th anniversary that China is lifted from poverty. China is the principal trade partner of 130 nations enjoying a surplus to finance the U.S. national debt. The U.S. has gradually descended from a ‘can do anything’ pedestal to ‘nothing gets done’ bickering bipartisan government.
There are numerous examples demonstrating the rise of efficacy in the CCP system (over the past half century) versus the inefficacy of democracy caused by partisan split (the more democratic the worst the government efficacy, India is an example). In defense of democracy, politicians resort to rhetoric to smear the ever evolving Chinese governance system, using job stealing, human rights abuse even genocide to discredit her efficacy. This tactic may convince a certain number of people for a short time, it eventually will peter out. Biden is an experienced politician with fifty years of political career, the author sincerely hope that he is able to honestly accept the facts in formulating his China policy. If he truly believes that democracy can be improved and can deliver domestically and abroad, then targeting China as a serious competitor may be the right thing to do to motivate Americans to reform. Biden is certainly aware that Hot War and Cold War are out of the question between China and the U.S. In a Cool War, however, Americans must remain cool, must revive their can-do spirit and evolve the current democratic system so that the U.S. will have a democracy with better efficacy than her competitor’s governance system. Biden must steer his China policy in this direction.