Members of media hailed the all-digital Democratic National Convention and convention coordinator Stephanie Cutter, the former Obama adviser famous for smearing Mitt Romney as a killer. The Washington Post’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin gushed that the week-long Zoom show should be nominated for an Emmy. Honest onlookers, however, would notice that there wasn’t an explanation as to why the event had to be held this way: China.
Among the many dignitaries, senators and celebrities, no speaker aside from the party’s nominee thought to mention China or its Uighur concentration camps, its freedom-crushing laws imposed on Hong Kong, or connect the communist country to the global pandemic that crashed the world economy and resulted in hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. There were more speakers with business ties to China, like Hunter Biden and Michael Bloomberg, than there were mentions of the country. When New York governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the pandemic early in the conference, he referred to COVID-19 as the ‘European virus’. It was a dangerous and dishonest dismissal from a politician who is apparently more concerned with his new book deal than the record body count in his state as a result of China’s reckless cover-up.
Biden referenced China exactly once, to propose that protective equipment be made in America so that the US will ‘never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries’. It’s a good policy, and one that was similarly spelled out in the Trump administration’s ‘Buy American’ draft executive order, which the President has yet to sign. But Biden did not elaborate on how he personally plans to accomplish reshoring the medical supply industry, and the press of course did not contextualize his remark by noting that N95 mask and PPE shortages were not replenished under the Obama administration after the H1N1 flu crisis in 2009. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Yes, Russia is a nuisance overseas and online, but it is China that will continue to be the preeminent global threat and most obvious foreign policy challenge to the incoming president. It appears the Democratic party has no intention of taking this seriously. How will a Biden administration engage with a foreign power that shows no signs of yielding and global institutions that refuse to hold it accountable?
So far, it seems that the party is willing to placate or ignore China if they can sacrifice Trump in the process. It may work, but once Trump is gone they can no longer blame him for China’s post-pandemic maneuvering in Hong Kong; its attempts to buy junk bonds from foreign nationals; its data collection efforts using apps like TikTok, and its economic influence over trading partners in the US, who haven’t learned their lesson. Walmart CEO Douglas McMillon told Fox News, ‘It is our hope that the two countries will work together in the years to come, to find ways to have a collaborative relationship. We want to be able to do business in China. I know a lot of US businesses and farmers want to as well.’ Would President Biden put pressure on corporations like Walmart who choose profits over protecting employees and their families from another economic fallout?
The Democrats’ choice to ignore these questions could very well could cost them the election. Biden’s acceptance speech set up a fight of good versus evil, but cast the wrong actors in the battle. It is not about Biden versus Trump, but about America versus China. The American people may believe that Trump could have done things differently, but they also know that he (and Europe) are not to blame for the pandemic. If Trump chooses to confront China head on at his party’s convention next week, he will be offering voters an alternative that does not favor Biden.