Although the issue was one of the pillars of Asia – based strategy of Barak Obama in the field of human rights and boosting democracy in Asia – Pacific, but the issue was dealt with less importance during the presidency of Donald Trump. Yet, as Biden took office in the U.S., human rights issues have turned to become one of the U.S. priorities against China.
If one looks at the list of Biden Administration measures during the last month, the U.S. severity on this issue will be clearly revealed. For example, on December 10, 2021 coincided with World Day of Human Rights, the U.S. imposed extensive sanctions relevant to human rights upon tens of persons and foundations in China, Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh. It also added the Chinese artificial intelligence company of Sense Time to the black list of investment. A week after, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that a number of Chinese technological companies have been added in the black list and prevent them doing business or trade with the U.S. The peak of the confrontation attitude of Biden Administration is the signing of the bill to ban the importation of goods from China’s Xinjiang. The measure made the U.S as the first country that almost completely bans all imports from the region.
Prior to this, in July 2021 the U.S. Department of State in a statement accused the Chines government for its extensive abuse in Xinjiang and other regions of the country. On July 13, 2021 Biden Administration added 14 companies to its economic black list and in March 2021, imposed sanctions upon two Chinese authorities for their role in grave human rights violations against the ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. One of the reasons of the White House for banning Winter Olympic games in China was their reference to genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other cases of human rights violation.
These cases indicate that value-behavior field has turned to become one of the serious confronting pivots between the two countries. Having employed these pressures, the U.S. depicts a negative image of China and attempts to make a duality and thus makes costly the accompaniment of other countries with China. In the meantime, Washington tries to shed light onto the confrontation of the political systems of the two countries. Its embodiment was obvious in Summit for Democracy Meeting which was held during 9-10 December 2021. This aspect of competition has shown itself more than ever in the past in the relations between the two countries during the recent years and after the outbreak of Coronavirus. China tried to attribute its success to combat with Coronavirus pandemic to its efficient political system. This very issue causes the U.S. to try to question the method of governance in China more than ever in the past too.
The White House is making effort to mobilize the company of the like-minded countries in line with the stabilization of the duality. For example, Britain and also Canada accompanied the U.S. in human rights sanction against Myanmar which shows coordination with like-minded countries to confront China is not limited to merely economic and military alliance-making but also contains soft fields. In line with this, the remarks of Wally Adeymo, the U.S. Under-Secretary of Treasury is remarkable who was saying as:” the U.S. measures, particularly those in coordination with Britain and Canada send the message that democracies throughout the world will take measure against those who misuse the state authority for imposition of sufferings and suppression.
This approach can also bring objective achievements for the U.S. For example, within the context of human rights concerns in Xinjiang, and having limited the cooperation with Chinese technological corporations, and coincided with competition of the two countries in technological field, the U.S. puts them under pressure.
In view of one of the policies of Beijing in Xinjiang which is making effort for its economic development, as the result of banning import from this region, the policy of balanced development of China will face difficulties. In the meantime, despite China’s opposition, Taiwan was also invited to attend in the Summit for Democracy Meeting which can be assessed as de-legitimizing Beijing policies.
In general, having exerted human rights pressures by the U.S. against China along with other aspects of the relations between the two countries, like military-security and economic fields, it will be revealed that the relations of the two countries have entered into new stage which the competition is its obvious and clear characteristics, although, it is anticipated that both sides have competition management in their agenda in order to avoid miscalculation and mounting tensions in an unmanageable way.