Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry departed Beijing Wednesday after Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China would work on climate in its own time and “never” be influenced by other countries on climate policy, Bloomberg reported.

Biden Administration’s Recent China Trips Showed Weakness, Experts Say

According to foreign policy experts and public officials, the Biden administration’s recent push to ease tensions between the U.S. and China is projecting weakness.
By Jake Smith, DCNF. Photo: John Kerry

According to foreign policy experts and public officials, the Biden administration’s recent push to ease tensions between the U.S. and China is projecting weakness.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry traveled to Beijing this summer to negotiate on reestablishing military communication, cooling the ongoing trade war, and addressing the climate crisis.

The negotiations were considered lackluster at best and a “failure” at worst, and spoke to a broader concern about China’s relationship with the U.S., foreign policy experts and public officials have argued.

“U.S. officials are learning how hard it is to make progress on relations with China,” Justin Logan, director of defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “With an economy larger relative to the U.S. economy than the Soviet Union ever was, China can say ‘no.’ And with as many fundamental issues dividing the two powers as there are, there seems to be little interest in horse trading.”

Recent efforts to stabilize relations with China began with State Secretary Antony Blinken’s June trip to Beijing, in which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to express that the Biden administration had no interest in conflict with Beijing and to stress the need for an open line of communication between the countries’ militaries. The CCP denied this request after Blinken brought the issue up “repeatedly,” NBC reported.

Instead of securing the military-to-military line, Blinken publicly reaffirmed that the Biden administration does not support Taiwanese independence immediately after being told to do so by CCP Foreign Affairs Director Wang Yi. Blinken also said the spy balloon caught flying over U.S. soil in February was a “chapter [that] should be closed.”

Leading Republican congressional members were upset with Blinken’s concessions and accused him of weakness in the face of a rapidly-growing threat from the CCP.

“I am deeply concerned about the glaring failures of Secretary Blinken’s trip to Beijing. Instead of holding China accountable, Secretary Blinken has echoed Chinese Communist Party propaganda,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said in a June statement. “Secretary Blinken’s failure to address China’s aggressive actions towards Taiwan is concerning… Blinken brushing off the recent CCP spy balloon that traversed the U.S. was ridiculous and totally dismissive of the concerns of the American people.”

Blinken’s visit was followed by a trip from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who traveled to Beijing July 6 in an attempt to ease heightened economic tensions and mitigate an ongoing trade war that saw China impose export restrictions on an essential chipmaking metal.

Yellen repeatedly bowed in front of China’s Vice-premier He Lifeng, which embarrassed public officials and foreign policy experts alike.

“Never, ever, ever. An American official does not bow. It looks like she’s been summoned to the principal’s office, and that’s exactly the optics the Chinese love,” Bradley Blakeman, a former senior staff member for the George W. Bush administration, told the NYP. “With this administration, time and time again, we embarrass ourselves and show weakness. And it just shows the lack of effective leverage we have.”

After her trip ended, Yellen said there would be further efforts at communication between the two countries despite “significant disagreements,” and said the Biden administration believed “that the world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive,” according to Reuters.

Yellen has previously said it would be “virtually impossible” to decouple from China’s economy due to its sheer size and integration with the U.S.

“Yellen is probably right that a “wholesale separation” of the two economies would be… profoundly destabilizing if it were possible,” Logan told the DCNF. “But if China’s economic growth continues, it will surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy, and potentially the world’s largest military power.”

The stabilization efforts with China were capped off with a July 16 Beijing visit from Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Kerry aimed to find common ground with CCP officials on a U.S.-China joint plan to combat the climate crisis and said he hoped nothing would get in the way of finding a solution.

Kerry came back to the U.S. with no major breakthroughs and said the two countries needed more time to “break new ground” after Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that China would “never be influenced by others” on their climate initiative policies. CCP Vice President Han Zheng suggested it was possible for China to work with the U.S. on climate policies, but that would require certain political demands to be met and would occur “on the basis of U.S. attendance to core issues that concern both parties.”

While Kerry said the U.S. and China are “not finished finding a pathway” on climate efforts, he did say the CCP is doing an “incredible job” on green energy initiatives including the manufacturing of solar panels, which are reportedly produced by slave labor in Xinjiang and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

John Kerry is actually the Chinese Communist Party’s favorite person to deal with because John Kerry believes we need to cooperate with China when it comes to climate change,” said Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher during an interview with Fox News. “And John Kerry and many others in the Biden administration fail to see what’s obvious, which is that the CCP itself, not climate change, is the greatest threat we face … It’s absolutely embarrassing and shameful.”

In the news: China Tells U.S. To Stay In Its Own Lane On Climate After John Kerry’s Visit

Before he left, Kerry floated the idea that the next Biden administration official to meet with the CCP could be President Biden himself during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Leaders’ Summit in November, according to NBC News.

“The Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, is trying to get US-China relations on a sound footing that reflects the current balance of power,” Logan said to DCNF. “China’s intransigence suggests Beijing thinks that the balance is likely to tip in its favor.”

The State Department, the Treasury Department and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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