The Corner


Joe Biden: Hey, Forget What I Said about China Earlier

Joe Biden in September 2018 (Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

Joe Biden now believes that “We need to get tough with China. China poses a serious challenge to us, and in some areas a real threat.”

That’s nice. That’s also the opposite of what he said last month, when he declared, “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man . . . They’re not bad folks, folks . . . they’re not competition for us” and “No other nation can catch us, including China. I got criticized for saying that.”

This marks the second major policy reversal from Biden in a week, after suddenly deciding he could no longer support the Hyde amendment. I suspect that these reversals will be treated more or less like Barack Obama’s opposition to gay marriage until May 9, 2012: quickly forgotten to the point where reminding anyone about the previous positions is seen as sort of weird, rude, or obsessive. Everyone will choose to forget that Biden’s previous comments made concern about China sound like ridiculous paranoia.

Perhaps Biden got a long-delayed briefing about China’s hostile activities, or perhaps his campaign warned him that his previous all-is-well stance on China was a political liability. But voters should be forgiven for wondering about how seriously Biden holds his current position. If Biden was a China hawk in the Obama administration, he hid it well.

Biden will argue today that whatever Trump wants to achieve with China, he’s pursuing the wrong methods.

“While Trump is tweeting, China is making massive investments in technologies of the future. While Trump is name-calling, China is building roads, bridges, and high-speed rail. While Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war, without any real strategy, China is positioning itself to lead the world in renewable energy. While Trump is attacking our friends, China is pressing its advantage all over the world.

Trump may well be using ineffective or sub-optimal methods to deal with the serious challenge and in some areas, a real threat” that China presents. But up until very recently, Joe Biden was among those assuring us that China wasn’t a serious challenge or threat.

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