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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

Personalized China-bashing strategy for the remaining Democratic 2020 presidential candidates

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

As the once crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates has nailed down to Biden vs. Sanders duel after the remarkable Super Tuesday in early March, I would like to provide the personalized China-bashing campaign strategy for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders.


China-bashing Strategy for Joe Biden - Engagement


Served as U.S. Senator since 1973, Joe Biden has witnessed so many tipping points in U.S.-China relations. His long-term leadership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee granted him more experience than any of the other Democratic candidates in U.S. foreign policy, which was also one of the reasons President Obama selected and relied on him as the Vice President.


The prime China-bashing strategy Biden could consider is calling for a return of the Obama-era “Pivot to Asia” to deal with the threat China poses to the liberal international order. On Day One of his Presidency, Trump rolled back the Obama-era "Trans-Pacific Partnership" (TPP), a 12-nation free-trade pact, using Executive Order. The unilateral action signals the retrenchment of multilateralism as the mean to deal with China and the Asian Pacific affairs, which consequently paved the way for China to disrupt the liberal international order by implementing its own multilateral approaches, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and interfering the governance of existing international organizations including World Health Organization (WHO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).


To show his distinct foreign policy towards China against Trump, Biden could frame the “engagement with China” doctrine during his campaign trails, and use his expertise on foreign affairs to convince the public and voters that such engagement approach would effectively encourage China to abandon its authoritarian governance at home and malicious ambition to spread authoritarianism, and persuade China to respect the liberal international order and improve its domestic and international practice in economy, security, human rights, and freedom.


China-bashing Strategy for Bernie Sanders - Democratization

Photo courtesy of Vidar Nordli-Mathisen | Unsplash

Self-declared as a "democratic socialist", Senator Bernie Sanders has long supported a generous welfare state — which includes policies like universal health care and free college education. Though the Chinese government claims itself as a "socialist" regime, the government does not take responsibility for the health, well-being and security of the general Chinese citizens, which is sharply distinct from Sanders' view of socialism. The primary reason is, democracy is missing from China's form of socialism.


Hence, the China-bashing strategy Senator Sanders could consider in his campaign is to proclaim a foreign policy that contributes to the "democratization" of China's socialist society. With the emphasis of democracy, Sanders should explain how his "Democratic Socialism" is different, suitable, or superior to deal with the threats of the self-claimed "Chinese socialism". Preferably, Sanders should include some criticisms of the Chinese government's behaviors that violate the principles of the welfare state, equality, and social justice.


Sanders' "Democratic Socialism" is neither Authoritarianism nor Communism. The potential "Sanders Doctrine" of foreign policy must contain his approach to deal with China's threats. Since China's Communist Party-State is seeking to spread authoritarianism and suppress freedom domestically and internationally, Sanders, the democratic socialist, should propose a strong counter-communist approach to defeat China's wrongdoings in the international society and seek to infuse the strong belief in democracy and democratic principles into the China's so-called socialist society.




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