The Biden administration’s policy of trying to play friendly with China has yielded few material gains, and the U.S. has failed to capitalize upon what little concessions it has gotten, experts told Fox News Digital.
'The one thing that we've got is time,' Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute senior fellow and China expert, explained. 'The United States is not ready to defend itself and its allies and partners, and by appeasing China we have bought a little bit of time.
'Biden has bought time, and the Pentagon has done nothing. It hasn’t done as much as it’s needed to do, so we have wasted time. … Apart from that, I don’t think we’ve gotten very much.
'Clearly, the United States is no longer deterring China as we once did, so this is the time to change a policy that has worked but is no longer sufficient in today’s setting.'
President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2022 held their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office while attending the G-20 summit in Indonesia. Last year, Xi visited the U.S. for the first time since 2018 and met with Biden in San Francisco on the sidelines of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.
Xi and Biden agreed to military-to-military communications and aggressively tackle the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl, which largely originates in China and Mexico. Nearly all 'precursor chemicals' needed to produce fentanyl originate in China, according to The Associated Press.
Last week, Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos about the administration's progress with China.
'The United States is competing with China across multiple dimensions, and we make no bones about that. But we are not looking for confrontation or conflict. And we are seeking to manage that competition responsibly, intensifying diplomacy to reduce the risk of miscalculation,' Sullivan said.
Sullivan also highlighted the recent meeting between the two leaders and noted the resumption of military-to-military communications, claiming the move was 'good for our relationship but also for regional and global stability. It will help reduce the risk of unintended conflict.'
Yet critics like Chang harbor major criticism of the Biden administration for not taking action in response to the many deaths from COVID-19 and fentanyl, both originating in China. Over 1.1 million Americans died from the pandemic, according to numbers published in April 2023, and over 73,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. in 2022.
'To me, it's incomprehensible that we would allow this, but we have allowed the killing of Americans in great numbers,' Chang said.
Critics and analysts had also expected stronger action from Biden following a tumultuous year for China-U.S. relations. The U.S. caught China sending spy crafts into sovereign American airspace, and China increased its incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
The Biden administration instead has spent time ramping up military drills with regional allies and strengthening ties with partners like Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Japan this week agreed to buy 400 U.S.-made long-range Tomahawk missiles, just one day after holding a massive naval drill with both the U.S. and South Korea in a show of force against North Korea. But China will have paid attention to such a demonstration.
Matt McInnis, senior fellow for the Institute for the Study of War’s China program, told Fox News Digital he would hesitate to label the Biden administration’s total approach to China as one of appeasement, but he argued that the White House does show 'too much concern about provoking China.'
'The Biden administration has continued many of the policies of the Trump administration on China and is actually taking some strong steps in many areas with China, but I do think that inherent fear of provocation is setting us up — especially this year — for some concessions that are going to be detrimental.'
In addition to the spy balloon incident and a lack of significant U.S. response, the U.S. has not managed to convince China to curb North Korea, which continues to make greater and greater shows of force as the hermit kingdom’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un seeks to establish his country as a legitimate world power.
Chang argued that the soft touch with China has allowed the international system to break down as 'bad actors now feel they can do what they want.' He cited the escalating tensions last week between Iran and Pakistan as an example.
Chang criticized the Biden administration’s policy of 'strategic ambiguity,' which administration spokespeople have cited in a variety of responses regarding America’s approach to China.
'Strategic ambiguity' sees America oscillating between clear support for the One China Policy, which necessitates opposition to Taiwan’s independence, even as the Pentagon continues to arm Taiwan and prepare it for possible invasion.
Both China and North Korea have provided backdoor support for Russia, with North Korea providing basic munitions in a bid to obtain more advanced weapons from Moscow. China reiterated support for Russia after the failed Wagner mercenary rebellion against the Russian Ministry of Defense over disagreements regarding progress in Ukraine.
China has also only emboldened Iran, which has continued to push its proxies in the Middle East and fund their attacks against American military assets and allies in the region.
While the Iran-backed Houthis double down on their attacks against international commercial ships in the Red Sea, China looks to fold Iran into the BRICS economic bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
'The more we restrict ourselves, that is going to set new norms that China can exploit and pressure us,' McInnis said. 'We end up deterring ourselves and not getting much in return for it.'