Biden's China policy: a fresh start after Trump

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China's leading diplomat Yang Jiechi exchanged blows before rolling cameras at their first meeting last Thursday. Blinken accused Beijing of endangering global stability, while Yang blamed Washington for interfering in China's internal affairs. Europe's press says the new US administration has made its future course clear. Commentators speculate on how Europe will respond.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Principled pragmatism

Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive, analyses Die Presse:

“Joe Biden wants to go back to the future: the US is to slip back into the leading role as a guiding, predictable and reliable superpower. ... Biden's most important geopolitical directive is to keep the rising counter-model of the People's Republic of China in check. ... If one were pressed to give a name to the new US president's foreign policy doctrine, it could be: principled pragmatism. ... US Secretary of State Antony Blinken summed it up before the frosty meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi: 'The relationship between the United States and China will be competitive if necessary, cooperative if possible, and hostile if need be'.”

NZZ am Sonntag (CH) /

The US can afford to do this

The US is the only country that is standing up to China right now, NZZ am Sonntag says:

“China's economic superiority has made Western countries more tolerant of violations of values and human rights. Hardly any country can afford to mess with Beijing. The US can. And it's been doing so ever since it realised that China is challenging its global leadership. Under Joe Biden, the US is seeking to form alliances and to oppose China where necessary. This is the most effective way of protecting the international system from autocratic tendencies.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Close the democratic ranks now

For De Volkskrant the situation offers Europe an opportunity:

“Biden sees that China not only needs to be put in its place, but also that cooperation is necessary. In addition to the climate, the discussions in Alaska also revolved around North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran. For the Europeans, who risk losing their way at this juncture, Biden's strategy also offers opportunities. When Trump was in the White House, the Europeans didn't really know where they stood vis-à-vis China. They no longer have that excuse. It sounds paradoxical, but the rhetorical fireworks display in Alaska may be the start of a long-term attempt to form a more united democratic front.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Enough of the chatter

Jyllands-Posten welcomes Washington's confrontational course but does not believe that Europe will follow it unreservedly:

Several countries are already caught in the Chinese web of a new Silk Road. From Copenhagen's point of view it's good news that the US is making a comeback as a leading power in the fight for a world order based on rules. This is urgently needed. But the strong shoulder to rest on does not come for free. Every struggle requires sacrifices, also in one's own ranks. For Denmark, this means that the never-ending chatter and understanding for China must stop, even if it hurts financially.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

De-escalation with gorilla tactics?

Lidové noviny makes a comparison with the animal world:

“Both sides want to demonstrate their firm stance, very much like gorillas beating their chests and roaring in a display of strength. However, one shouldn't judge the American-Chinese relationship with harsh words but instead focus on what is not happening. If the US-Chinese trade war does not intensify and there is no armed confrontation over Taiwan, then the gorilla tactics will have been successful. Because gorillas demonstrate their strength not only by beating their chests and roaring, but also by trying to avoid fights and bloodshed.”