Election 2020

No, George Will, Joe Biden Is Not Better Than Trump When It Comes to China. Here's Why.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Last week, The Washington Post‘s conservative columnist George Will claimed that former Vice President Joe Biden would be more able to hold China accountable for its coronavirus lies and malfeasance than President Donald Trump. His headline? “Only one of these candidates is actually able to stand up to China.” George Will is correct that only one of them can stand up to China — he just chose the wrong guy.

Will’s op-ed makes only a cursory argument for the ridiculous idea that Biden is better positioned to hold China accountable than Trump. At least half of his article reads as policy advice for Biden to take in order to make that argument himself. George Will at least gives credit to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley for their efforts to hold China accountable. Ironically, he suggests Biden should embrace Cotton and Haley while neglecting to mention that it was Trump who put Haley in her ambassadorship in the first place.

Will’s argument for Biden relies on the Democrat’s resume — Biden served 34 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chairing that committee for four years — and the former VP’s welcome rebuke of Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “thug” during a February debate. Biden has slammed China’s aggression against Hong Kong and its imprisonment of “a million Uighurs” in “concentration camps,” pivoting away from his 2016 talk of “enhanced cooperation” with Xi.

As for Trump, Will attacked the current president’s rhetoric — siding with Vladimir Putin against U.S. intelligence regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, saying he “fell in love” with Kim. The Washington Post columnist makes no mention of the historic diplomatic inroads Trump has made with Kim or the president’s trade war with China, which resulted in a January trade deal.

Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy may worry many Americans, and his lavish praise for the dictator Kim is particularly troubling. But Joe Biden’s record is even more troubling, especially when it comes to China.

The impeachment battle drew fresh attention to Joe’s son Hunter and his membership on the board of the corrupt Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Obama’s veep notoriously pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor looking into Burisma, threatening to revoke $1 billion in U.S. aid.

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As it turns out, Hunter also raked in cash from lucrative business deals in China, just as Joe Biden went soft on the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression in the South China Sea. As of April, Hunter reportedly remains on the board of the Chinese company Bohai Harvest RST, an investment fund created with the help of the Communist Party-run Bank of China. He had pledged to divest from the company amid his father’s presidential campaign.

Biden’s liabilities on China extend beyond Hunter, however. As Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich pointed out, the former veep has failed to take Beijing seriously during the 2020 campaign cycle.

When Trump announced a ban on travel to and from China to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Biden slammed him for it.

“We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency,” Biden said of Trump’s ban.

Biden has dismissed the global threat of China, downplaying its efforts to undermine the U.S. geographically, militarily, and economically.

“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” Biden said during an Iowa campaign stop last summer. “I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us. The fact of the matter is we can do all we need to do without punishing anybody.”

Contrary to the former vice president’s insistence, China is a threat to the U.S. The Communist Party has sent Chinese students to America’s top doctoral programs to gain access to university research labs. The Chinese have stolen U.S. intellectual property on the cutting edge of science and technology.

Yet perhaps the greatest sign that Biden is unfit to challenge China is the despicable way he condemned Trump’s attempts to counter Chinese Communist propaganda regarding the origin of the coronavirus.

Beijing has insisted that the coronavirus originated in the U.S., not in Wuhan, China. To combat this ridiculous false narrative, Trump has branded it the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus,” just like legacy media outlets repeatedly did in the early days of the crisis. The Chinese Communist Party has accused Trump of using these terms to stoke racism, and both left-leaning media figures and the World Health Organization (WHO), which has repeatedly covered for China, rushed to repeat this charge.

Last month, Biden himself released a statement condemning Trump’s use of such terms.

“Unfortunately, Donald Trump and his Administration have failed to show almost any moral leadership when it comes to this issue. The casual racism and regular xenophobia that we have seen from Trump and this Administration is a national scourge,” Biden said in the statement.

Asian Americans have experienced harassment during the crisis, and any such incidents are disgusting and should be condemned by all. There is no evidence, however, that Trump’s efforts to counter Chinese Communist propaganda are responsible for these heinous attacks.

In March, Trump made it clear that the spread of the coronavirus is not the fault of Asian Americans.

“It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world,” he tweeted. “They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”

Trump pledged to protect Asian Americans, acknowledging that “great American citizens that happen to be of Asian heritage” have faced harassment. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

Despite China’s lies and Trump’s clear support for Asian Americans, Biden still echoed the Chinese Communist Party line that calling the coronavirus “Chinese” is racist.

How can Biden claim to hold China accountable with this record? Hunter Biden aside, how can George Will expect Biden to be better than Trump when it comes to China when Biden will not even join Trump in condemning China’s propaganda that the virus did not come from the Middle Kingdom?

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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