President Joe Biden attempted to shift the U.S. government’s foreign policy focus on China during his first year in the White House, but as some experts have pointed out, his efforts have been thwarted at every turn.
According to the Washington Examiner, David Stilwell, the former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, China has seemingly caught its latest break from too much U.S. attention thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s poised to invade neighboring Ukraine, possibly in the coming days.
“Every time, something has taken over. Up until last summer, it was Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria,” Stilwell told the outlet. “It’s just gonna keep happening until we get serious.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken worked to renew Quadrilateral Security Dialogue meetings with Australia, India, and Japan in an effort to counter China’s influence in the region, but the only topic on anyone’s mind is Russia.
China cozies with Russia
According to Stilwell and others, the 2022 Olympic Games, held in China, offered yet another distraction, and proved to the world that China still has the power to dictate the terms.
That was made especially clear when the opening ceremony for the games was helmed by President Xi Jinping and Putin, who essentially held high-level talks on the sidelines of the Games.
The Examiner called it “a symbolic middle finger to Biden’s democracies vs. autocracies rhetoric,” and Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that the two leaders’ relationship only serves to complicate efforts.
“It makes it more difficult for the U.S. to deter Russia when Russia and China relations are much closer than they’ve been for a long time,” Kennedy noted.
The relationship between Jinping and Putin could also explain why assessments that the Russian leader would wait to invade Ukraine until the end of the Olympics are true, as Putin might be doing so as a sign of respect for his new best friend in China.
“Marriage of convenience”
“This marriage of convenience has become at least a civil union because they both share a deep antipathy toward the United States and its focus on human rights,” Kennedy continued.
He added: “At the same time, they have real big differences in their economies and the specific issues that matter to them.”
Only time will tell if Biden ever gets the chance to score points on the world stage by finally standing up to China’s growing global influence, but it seems as if the distractions are proving to be too much to overcome.