Opinion: Biden’s Misinterpretation of Chinese History May Affect US Policy Toward China
February 22, 2021
When CNN asked U.S. President Joe Biden about his China policy during a televised event held in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, he said he couldn’t discuss it in just 10 minutes. Biden then made bizarre remarks. He not only misinterpreted Chinese history, but also justified Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s authoritarian policies. The direction of the new administration’s China policy is truly concerning.
Biden said, “If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been—the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home,” Biden said. “So the central—to vastly overstate it—the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”
His statements are surprising because such rhetoric usually comes from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). No wonder former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately commented that Biden was echoing “Chinese propaganda” with regards to the CCP’s human rights abuses against minorities and political dissidents.
The history that Biden was referring to is the past 71 years in China— the shameful history after the CCP seized power. Biden was born in 1942. It is not unusual for him to lack knowledge about Chinese history. In fact, most Americans and even many Chinese people don’t understand Chinese history. The CCP has tampered with Chinese history textbooks and deceived generations of Chinese with their inaccuracies.
Biden’s statement, “when China has been victimized by the outer world” refers to incidents that only happened after the CCP seized power. In fact, the last time China was victimized by outsiders was during the War of Resistance against Japanese aggression during World War II. The CCP may also consider the Korean War as the last time China was victimized. However, the Korean War was supported by the CCP, and the outside world did not invade China.
The CCP sees China as the victim when it was isolated from the world before the United States developed diplomatic relations with Beijing. However, the CCP had ousted U.S. ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart, and turned itself to the communist camp of the former Soviet Union. It stood on the opposite side of Western democracies and closed itself off. During the Korean War, the CCP army supported the North Korean troops to invade South Korea. The United Nations condemned the aggression of the Chinese troops and dispatched soldiers from 21 countries to aid South Korea. The CCP continued to fight the U.N. forces. How can such a government expect to be recognized by other countries?
After the CCP and the former Soviet Union feuded, military conflicts between the two occurred. The former Soviet Union threatened to use nuclear bombs on China. This may be regarded as some kind of “being victimized.” In fear, the CCP rebelled from the communist camp and pretended to no longer be enemies of Western democracies. Only then did U.S.-China diplomatic relations develop and the CCP regime become recognized by the international community.
After U.S.-China diplomatic relations were established, Western society opened its doors and actually embraced the Chinese Communist regime. How could the outside world victimize China? I don’t understand why Biden would put it that way.
In contemporary history, China was victimized most by the Japanese invasion of its borders. The Chinese nation became unexpectedly united as never before as warlords united to counter the invasion, but not with the CCP. The CCP armed itself and played the role of a separatist to divide the nation. When the country was badly hit on July 7, 1937, the CCP instructed Zhang Xueliang’s troops to detain then national leader Chiang Kai-shek, and tried to put him to death. But the CCP had to release Chiang because then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin needed Chiang to lead the war against Japan. According to Biden’s interpretation, the CCP should have been well aware of the need for unity in the event of a foreign invasion; but the CCP was precisely the traitor.
Today, China has not been victimized by the outside world. In 2020, the CCP continued on its aggressive path of global domination through its wolf warrior diplomacy, and it tried to conceal and manipulate facts about the source of COVID-19, which led to a global pandemic. The international community wants to hold the Chinese regime accountable for the pandemic. Is the CCP being victimized or is it victimizing the world?
The CCP regards the United States as its greatest enemy, but the United States has actually been its victim. It is indeed puzzling to hear that Biden would refer to the CCP as “the most serious competitor” rather than an enemy.
Looking at China’s long and true history, before 1949 when the CCP took over, for 5,000 years China has not been “tightly controlled,” as Biden said. There were the Hundred Schools of Thought in Chinese history. A large number of people believed in Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The mainland was first united in the Qin dynasty, but Qin was a short-lived dynasty because it violated the providence by trying to rule with strict laws. Unlike the dictatorship of the CCP, past dynasties had governed the people with benevolence, and each kept China on the world stage for hundreds of years. There has never been so-called “tight control”—the same way that the CCP is ruling China. Biden’s “tightly controlled China” does not exist in the authentic Chinese history.
Even the former Kuomintang (KMT) government, which the CCP has always slandered, had allowed then CCP’s official newspaper Xinhua Daily to operate and publish. Lu Xun, who was repeatedly praised by the CCP, had been writing articles cursing the KMT, but he was still allowed to publish articles at will. After the KMT government retreated to Taiwan, it finally realized democracy in Taiwan. Biden’s “tightly controlled China” only occurs in the mainland under the control of the CCP. The CCP cannot wait to “tightly control” Hong Kong, and the next step is to “tightly control” Taiwan. As far as the truly “tightly controlled China” is concerned, why is Biden trying to justify the “rationale” of the CCP leaders?
Biden also said, “Culturally, there are different norms that each country and, their leaders are expected to follow.” In response to this statement, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn) tweeted, “Why is our President making excuses for Communist China’s predatory acts?”
Biden does not know China’s history, and certainly does not know China’s true culture. The “tightly controlled China” has never been a part of traditional Chinese culture. The CCP has almost completely destroyed traditional Chinese culture with its socialist and communist ideologies, or Party culture, that have been harming the country and the people. The Chinese culture that Biden refers to and perceives is actually the Party culture of the CCP.
As the President of the United States, how can Biden determine an appropriate policy toward China based on such misunderstandings?
I believe there are people in the Biden administration who really know Chinese history and culture, and I hope they’ll speak up soon. It needs to be pointed out that the Biden team has not been able to clearly distinguish the CCP from China, and the CCP regime from the Chinese people. Biden’s words show that he makes no distinction between traditional Chinese culture and the CCP culture, which is indeed concerning. This could be the result of infiltration of the CCP’s Confucius Institutes in the United States, and of course, Xi Jinping will also try his best to promote the CCP’s rhetoric to Biden.
Biden and his administration should learn about the real history and culture of China, but not through the Confucius Institutes.
Zhong Yuan is a researcher focused on China’s political system, the country’s democratization process, human rights situation, and Chinese citizens’ livelihood. He began writing commentaries for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in 2020.