Will Biden be able to lay groundwork to successfully compete with China?

The United States must maintain stability and prosperity if it is to overcome competition from China and maintain its democratic advantage. The question now is whether the United States can make steady progress in laying the groundwork for this.

It has been 100 days since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, and a variety of measures have been implemented at an unusually rapid pace, including a shift from the “America First” policy of the previous administration of President Donald Trump to international cooperation, vaccinations against the novel coronavirus, and large-scale fiscal stimulus.

The urgent issues of the coronavirus crisis domestically and China’s expansionist policy diplomatically have apparently heightened the sense of crisis and led to swift action. It is commendable that Biden has been able to calm the turmoil that existed under the previous administration by filling his Cabinet with experts.

In his first policy speech, Biden emphasized that “America is on the move again — turning peril into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks into strength.” His view that strengthening U.S. competitiveness and improving the lives of its citizens will be effective in containing China is convincing.

In order to realize this goal, he outlined measures to invest in infrastructure to create jobs and to expand education and welfare. Together with the economic measures already implemented, the total amount of the package is ¥660 trillion. Will the United States be able to finance these measures only by raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations? It will likely also be necessary to take measures to prevent the economy from overheating.

The series of plans is aimed at raising the standard of living of the middle class, including blue-collar workers. It clearly aims to appeal to those who have felt deprived of jobs due to the relocation of manufacturing plants to China and the influx of immigrants, among other factors.

Without the understanding of the middle class, which has been inclined to support Trump, it will be difficult for Biden to strengthen his base of power and to promote international cooperation on issues such as climate change. This is probably the reason why the Biden administration has advanced a policy of diplomacy that “benefits the middle class.”

The Republican Party, which opposes Biden, has criticized his policy of increasing the role of government as “socialist” and has argued against the government’s moves on such topics as racial issues and gun control, saying the government is imposing on people.

Overcoming division will not be easy. It is important to continue to run the government to gain the understanding of the people and promote unity.

The hegemonic competition between the United States and China spans a wide range of areas, from military affairs and the economy to science and technology, and it appears to have developed into a battle of democracy versus authoritarianism. In his speech, Biden repeatedly referred to China and said that the United States should prove that democracy is working.

The Biden administration’s stance can also be viewed as one of pressing U.S. allies to work to maintain a stable, rules-based international order. Japan must further deepen its cooperation with the United States and expand its role.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 1, 2021.