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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

China and the 2020 Democratic Party platform - What's included? And what's missing?

In late July, the Democratic National Committee released a draft of its new party platform for 2020. Though the 80-page document mentions "China" or "Chinese" for 25 times, signaling an increase from eight times in the 2016 version, neither concrete approach nor constructive solution is offered in the lengthy platform to deal with the increasing threats imposed by China's CCP regime.

Photo courtesy of Derick McKinney/Unsplash

Tones of China issues, in general, are critiques of Trump’s China policies and the Democrats' insistence that this critique does not render them soft on Beijing.

Today, I want to discuss some issues mentioned in the 2020 Democratic Party platform (draft), and offer some recommendations to enhance the Democrats' approach towards China's threats.


Policies regarding the coronavirus pandemic come up first in the 2020 Democratic Party platform. However, the 5-page "Protecting Americans and Recovering From The Covid-19 Pandemic" section does not mention China's mishandling of Covid-19, such as covering up the early outbreak of the disease, rejecting foreign experts to study the disease, and censoring the media coverage and personal discussion of the disease in social media.

The Chinese government is the probable "originator", "facilitator," and "beneficiary" of the Covid-19 outbreak. Therefore, I strongly suggest that the platform should accuse the Chinese government of causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and other innocent people around the world, rather than exclusively blame President Trump for failing to contain the pandemic. This would help prevent future disaster caused by the authoritarian regime.

Trade Policy

The Democratic platform does not single out China on its general trade policy and argues that the Trump Administration's launching a trade war with China that have no plan for winning - "creates incredible hardship for American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers in the process." And thus "Democrats will stand up to efforts from China and other state actors to steal America’s intellectual property and will demand China and other countries cease and desist from conducting cyberes pionage against our companies."

However, China is probably the only country that has committed so many illegal trade practices including manipulating currencies, maintaining a misaligned exchange rate with the dollar, dumping products, and providing unfair subsidies. Facing such a malicious trade player, Democrats should figure out an effective strategy, if not a trade war, to particularly punish China's violations and change China's behavior in the global market.

Human Rights

The document includes a 3-page section of "Democracy and Human Rights," centering on the issues within the United States. Nothing about China's massive human rights violation and the threat to the global democracy are discussed under the section though it states that "around the world, democracy and human rights are under greater assault than they have been in a generation."

Since "Democrats believe that the fight for universal values should start at home, but it can’t end there," they should propose specific policy agenda to take on the Chinese government - the largest human rights violator in the world, protect the democracy worldwide, and spread the universal values in China.

Military Challenge

According to the platform, "Democrats believe the China challenge is not primarily a military one." The whole document does not include any discussion and solution on China's military aggression in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and other malign behaviors that challenge the interests of the U.S. and its allies.

Multilateralism and engagement are the distinctive features of the Democrats on foreign policy. Before deciding whether and how to cooperate and engage, it is necessary to identify "friends and foes." The document highlights the cooperation and mutual interest between the U.S. and China (climate change and nonproliferation), but overlooks China's malicious actions that would put global stability at risk.

I suggest the Democrats propose to build a new multilateral system in the Asian-Pacific region and/or launch "encirclement campaigns" with the regional allies to contain the aggression of the authoritarian China.


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