JBiden’s foreign policy doctrine sees the future relationship between democracies and authoritarian regimes as a competition, accompanied by a battle of narratives. Undemocratic regimes have become brazen in their repression and many democratic governments have regressed by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and undermining the rule of law. The United States, under Donald Trump, was not immune to such tendencies. A European think tank warned last week that there remains a risk that the United States will slide into authoritarianism.
The Biden administration announced the first of two virtual “summits for democracynext month to bring together government, civil society and business leaders from more than 100 nations. That might sound a bit rich, given that America the story to befriend dictators and overthrow elected leaders he disliked. Invitations have been sent to such a broad group that it includes liberal democracies, weak democracies and states with authoritarian characteristics. Mr Biden deserves applause for seeking a revival of democracy, asking participants to reflect on their record of upholding human rights and fighting corruption.
The world faces a return to great power politics, where global rules take precedence over historical spheres of influence. Russia’s threat to Ukraine is a good example. No one would choose this situation, but democracies have to deal with it. As the EU has Noted, the high seas, space and the internet are increasingly contested areas. Mr. Biden is a realist. He is willing to cooperate with countries from Poland to the Philippines, where democracy is slipping back, to deter Moscow and Beijing. The world is not black and white either. India, a troubled democracy, watered this month’s COP26 final communiqué, backed by autocratic China.
Beijing is the ghost of America’s Democracy Festival, a fact highlighted by Mr Biden’s invitation to Taiwan. Sino-US relations can be competitive, but not so feverish that neither can work together. Vaccine nationalism was a Warning about how soft power could be weaponized. It would be wrong to rationalize US stocks by demonizing its rivals. China alternative The economic and political system does not make conflict inevitable, even if Beijing’s background noise and US defense spending make it harder to avoid. This month’s video call between American and Chinese presidents suggested their nations were trucks speeding down the highway of international relations in need of a guardrail.
New rules of the road are key in the trade where Mr Biden has continued Mr. Trump’s tariff hikes on Chinese exports. The United States experienced a backlash from the economic upheaval induced by trade openness that should have been addressed through redistributive policies. In their absence, the result has been rampant inequality in the United States and a wealthier country, unequal China. Mr Biden says he is making the economy work for ordinary americans, and thus help to regain their faith in democracy. Yet without reform to global trade rules, the benefits of rising US wages will largely flow to countries like China that suppress household income.
In response, Mr. Biden asks coalitions with democratic allies to replace the current model of liberalisation. Chinese historian Qin Hui argues that on the left, globalization is as popular in China as it is unpopular in the West. Professor Qing suggests that Chinese concerns about growing inequality should be assuaged through political reform so that workers can strengthen their bargaining position. It seems a remote possibility. China has grown rich without becoming more democratic. Professor Qin’s views may resonate in Washington, but they hit the wrong note in Beijing, which has already banned his work, and prefers slogans signaling a repression of high incomes. Mr. Biden sees, both at home and abroad, democratic values under attack. The US president has identified the challenge. The hardest part is answering them.