Biden inherits some problematic Trump legacies, makes 100-day score ‘unsatisfied’
Published: Apr 26, 2021 09:55 PM Updated: Apr 26, 2021 11:55 PM
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech on a $2 trillion infrastructure spending at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Photo: VCG

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech on a $2 trillion infrastructure spending at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Photo: VCG

Majority of Americans say they approve of US President Joe Biden's job performance near his first 100 days in office, according to US media, and Chinese experts also weighed in on Biden's performance from China's perspective, saying that Biden's efforts on fixing ties with not only China, but also many other countries have been unsatisfactory, despite returning the US to the multilateral framework and showing openness to cooperation and dialogue. 

Biden's approval rating after nearly 100 days in office was only higher than Donald Trump and Gerald Ford, according to a Langer Research Associates (LRA) poll, conducted for ABC News and The Washington Post, Biden received a 52 percent approval rating. The poll conducted by NBC News showed a similar result of 53 percent.

The average at the 100-day stage for the 14 presidents from Truman to Biden is 66 percent, according to previous polls.

"This score was not high, but it's not bad as well, considering US society at this moment is still very divided. The approval rating proves Biden is at least more acceptable than his predecessor," Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.

The polls found that Americans care more about domestic affairs, while Chinese analysts are focusing on US diplomacy and how Biden has tried to fix problematic ties with China. 

Unsatisfied in general

Yuan Zheng, deputy director and senior fellow of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said Biden is trying to use China to unify politicians of the two parties, and when he wants to push forward some policies but face objection from Republicans, he would say "if we don't do it, then China will do it."

But Republican politicians are not going to let Biden take credit and unite the country easily. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday that he is "not very impressed" with President Biden's first 100 days in office, and Russia and China are "already pushing him around."

The NBC News poll showed that Biden's lowest scores include the issue of "dealing with China - 35 percent approve and 44 disapprove." 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow and expert on US studies at the CASS, said that it's hard to tell why Americans are unsatisfied with Biden's China policy, as Americans' opinion on foreign affairs could be manipulated by the media and politicians' comments. Some might believe that Biden has been too weak, while others think the US should do more to fix ties.

"But one thing is for sure, there is no US president who can design a China policy that would only harm China and bring no damage to the US." 

The trade war against China launched by Trump and a series of sanctions against Chinese firms have already hurt interests of many Americans and US companies. It is time for Biden to correct those mistakes, said Chinese experts.

President Joe Biden walks from Marine One with first lady Jill Biden on the Ellipse near the White House after spending the weekend in Wilmington, Del., on Sunday in Washington. Photo: VCG

President Joe Biden walks from Marine One with first lady Jill Biden on the Ellipse near the White House after spending the weekend in Wilmington, Del., on Sunday in Washington. Photo: VCG

Better than Trump

There is no room for Biden to be too friendly with China at this moment as the political atmosphere on China in America is still poisoned, so he decided to inherit some of Trump's legacies when dealing with China rather than correct the mistakes, Jin said.

"Biden keeps military pressure on China in the East and South China seas, and areas around Taiwan. He continues to push the Quad mechanism which aims to let Australia, Japan and India serve the US Indo-Pacific strategy to contain China. He also keeps using human rights as a pretext to interfere in China's internal affairs in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet," Jin noted.

All of this proves that Biden is not going to fix China-US ties. So his performance was not very satisfactory, but on the other hand, compared to the irrational and unpredictable Trump administration, he can at least slow down the worsening trend of bilateral relations, said Chinese experts. 

The main key of Biden team's China policy will remain tough, but its tactics will be different, Yuan said, noting that the Biden administration at least recognizes that the US is not perfect, and it knows that the US should solve its problems by reform and self-correction, unlike Trump and some conservatives who claim that Americans should blame China all the time on problems they were unable to solve.

"Biden will be more predictable and rational, and the communication on climate change and the 2+2 dialogue mechanism in Alaska with China will be continued," Yuan noted.

Jin said Biden has at least made the US return to the multilateral process on the climate issue. In some fields, "we should welcome positive changes he made for the US."

However, relations between the US and countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, and even Turkey, are still problematic or even worsening. When its close partner India badly needs help, the US failed to show its leadership and responsibility. The situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East is still unstable, so in general, not just to China, the Biden administration's performance on foreign affairs is far from satisfactory to many members of international community, analysts said.

Prepare for change

Biden also managed to fix US ties with its allies, including European countries and Japan, and to some extent he fixed the broken image of the US. Some Chinese observers believe that this would be a challenge for China, because Trump divided the West and damaged US image and credibility, and they believe Trump weakened the US, but Biden is slowing the trend. 

Once Trumpism returns, the US would be irrational and unpredictable again, and the West will be further divided, so Chinese experts also suggested that China should not hold any more illusions on the US or wishful thinking on Biden to fix China-US ties, and should always be prepared for the serious crisis and tensions.  

Biden's 100-day approval rating is just higher than Trump and Ford's, and these two presidents only had one four-year term. Chinese experts reached by Global Times agree that the Democrats don't have a clear advantage in the 2022 midterm elections.  

China has offered the Biden administration enough time, patience and suggestions to fix ties, but the recovery of China-US ties hasn't materialized, and the cooperation has only be mentioned in climate change, but on fighting COVID-19 and boosting world economic recovery, the US shows no interest, while offensive and provocative acts remain, said Chinese analysts. 

"The Biden administration will regret one day if they miss the opportunity to fix ties with China," because the US is unable to solve many problems on its own, and when it loses its political power and resources after the midterm elections, that would be too late, Lü said.

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