By Kenneth Rapoza, CPA Industry Analyst
Pew Research survey shows that Americans think human rights should surpass corporate interests in Biden’s China policies.
When asked if the US should “try to promote human rights even if it harms economic relations with China”, 70 percent of those responding to a Pew Research survey said they were fine with that.
This comes at a time when the Uyghur ethnic minority group in Xinjiang is becoming a thorn in China’s side in dealing with the US. The State Department, led by Anthony Blinken, says it agrees with the previous administration’s stance that the Chinese Communist Party’s egregious human rights abuses against the Uyghurs amount to “genocide.” A new report by Newlines Institute, which counted on China’s own documentation and open source intelligence on detention centers for Uyghurs, said China was in breach of Article II of the UN Convention on Genocide. The US State Department under President Trump determined that the CCP is committing genocide, and the current State Department spokesman said the US has not seen any developments to change that determination.
Now, the most pressing issue facing lawmakers is what to do about it, including how to ensure corporations are not supporting the CCP’s genocide by doing business in Xinjiang and, at the very least, ban the sourcing of any material from there for use in factories elsewhere in mainland China where forced labor is not an issue.
The Pew study, published March 4, said that nearly nine-in-ten adults (89%) now consider China either a competitor or enemy, rather than as a trading partner, the preferred term of the globalist Davos crowd.
President Biden has now taken to actively labeling China a strategic competitor.
According to survey respondents, more had confidence in Trump’s dealings with China than they have confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the US-China relationship. However, that critique may be more perception than reality. Biden has not changed any of the previous administration’s positions on China, including individual sanctions and talks of cutting tariffs.
“Biden has yet to show his hand on China, but Blinken — with his tough on China stance — is marking out the correct path for the US going forward: recognizing that China is a competitor and rival in areas like trade, technology, and geopolitical influence in Asia, not to mention a continuous espionage threat and perpetrator of intellectual property theft,” said Jeff Ferry, chief economist for the Coalition for a Prosperous America.
“Let me just say that I believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” said Blinken in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January. He only said that he disagreed with Trump’s go-it-alone approach, an approach that the Financial Times and the WSJ recently admitted may be an option Biden, too, will have to consider.
A March 10 headline by Newsweek said big business donors to the Democratic Party were hoping for a reversal of China policy, but have been left on the hook in Biden’s first two months in office.
The article did not quote anyone from the business world.
Back to Pew’s survey, 67 percent of Americans said they have “cold” feelings toward China, giving the country a rating of less than 50 on a 0 to 100 scale. This is up from 46 percent who said so in 2018, year one of the trade war. The intensity of these negative feelings has increased, Pew analysts led by Laura Silver wrote. The share who say they have “very cold” feelings toward China (0-24 on the same scale) has roughly doubled from 23 percent to 47 percent.
However, while Americans say human rights and the economy are the two things that spring to mind when thinking of China, the plight of the Uyghurs is not singled out in an open-ended question on the subject. In fact, only 3 percent of respondents singled out the Uyghurs, suggesting the genocide story has not made it into the public zeitgeist at this time.
One worrisome highlight: there is a 27-point gap between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to whether limiting China’s power and influence is a top priority or not. The only other issues where there was a serious gap in feelings was climate change (Democrats 56 points more likely to name this as a top priority for Biden) and reducing illegal immigration (48 points higher among Republicans).
We do not see the same in Congress. From our perspective, Democrats and Republicans are equally concerned about China. And while they may not put it number one on their list if given a choice between a number of issues, we have seen both parties share our concerns and interests – by and large – in how to be more resilient in the age of, as Biden calls it, “extreme competition” with China.