Xi Jinping and his Communist cronies should celebrate Joe Biden’s recent turnaround at the ballot box, maybe with a (masked) ball. Joe and Hunter Biden embody the globalism that empowered a China bent on surpassing the United States.
Start with Hunter’s shenanigans. In 2017, the illustrious vice-presidential son was granted what Chinese commentators described as a Xianchai, a sinecure reserved for offspring of important officials, at BHR Partners. BHR is a $20 billion fund with shareholders that include China Life, China Development Bank and other state-owned entities. China’s State Council calls on BHR to find deals abroad by hiring foreigners with political connections.
Hunter may have been the wrong choice, though, considering his knack for attracting publicity and his dealings with Ye Jianming, a former energy CEO now jailed by Beijing for corruption. Jianming presented Hunter a large diamond — and the president of Chad a $2 million bribe.
Under media scrutiny, young Biden announced his resignation from BHR in October 2019, though the Chinese public records still list him as an officer. This all happened, he explains, after his father left office. In China, though, there is a widespread belief that officials are even more influential in retirement.
Not that Papa Biden hasn’t been helpful to Junior in office. In 2013, Hunter’s business partner Jonathan Li and his father sat down for a meeting. Hunter calls such encounters “social visits,” but business in China happens over dinner and boozy karaoke fests.
To many Americans, Hunter’s wheeling and dealing in China might look like another example of the powerful exploiting access — just like, well, Hunter in Ukraine. But this Xianchai is more sinister: It’s the apotheosis of the corrupt bond between US elites and China’s brutal regime.
Hunter is a winner in a globalist system that saw America hand to China its industrial base, good jobs, intellectual property and global standing in exchange for market access and flattery. China, Wall Street and the Bidens profited.
His son’s profiteering aside, Joe Biden defends this system — and has since meeting Deng Xiaoping in 1979, when he joined the first US congressional delegation to the People’s Republic.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the early 2000s and then as veep, Biden helped along China’s geopolitical rise. Bernie Sanders is thus right to criticize Biden for supporting the grant of Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to China in 2000.
A decade later, Biden said: “A rising China is a … positive development not only for China, but for America.” Tell that to the 1 million Uighurs in Chinese concentration camps. Tell it to Asian democracies menaced by Beijing’s bullying. Tell it to the American factory workers who lost good jobs while Hunter got $80,000 a month for his princeling sinecure.
Oh, and what did Biden do about the growing Chinese-fueled fentanyl crisis while “overseeing the China portfolio,” as he says he did in the Obama administration? Nada.
What Biden did do was to contribute mightily to Team Obama’s record of appeasement and failure to counter Chinese aggression from cyber-hacking to island-building.
Nowadays, Biden might virtue-signal about a “rules-based international order” and human rights in China. But while he occupied the highest circles of American power, he did nothing to prevent China from subverting those rules to supplant and endanger America.
In practice, he upheld an “order” in which the US Navy guaranteed the security of Chinese resource imports and exports of finished goods made in state-subsidized factories.
Nowadays, Biden might call his old friend Xi a “thug” and yelp about Xinjiang and Hong Kong. But the Communist Party has long endured sanctimonious liberals. Listening to their harangues is a small price for a relationship that brings such prosperity and strength.
Americans are now woke to these realities. In today’s climate, a full return to the pre-Trump China consensus may not be possible, even for Biden. But the predictability of Biden would be a blessing to Beijing, as opposed to Trump or Sanders.
The two populists understand what China does. Meanwhile, just last summer, Biden said of the Chinese regime: “They’re not bad folks. … They’re not competition for us.”
Communist Party members may not be “bad folks,” but they are realists who prioritize their own national interest.
That means subverting their main geopolitical rival — and Biden has consistently supported this goal. Strong drink and strong hangovers may excuse Hunter’s Beijing hijinks, but his father is beholden to a delusional globalist ideology of mutual benefit that has wrought tremendous damage to our nation. Call him Beijing Biden.
Nels Frye is a writer in Boston.
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