Biden’s China rhetoric: misleading and ill-informed hubris

By Imran Khalid | Gwadar Pro Aug 17, 2023

Editor's Note: The writer is a freelance columnist on international affairs based in Karachi, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

In an astonishing display of rhetorical hubris, US President Joe Biden recently unleashed a fusillade of criticism aimed squarely at China, dubbing it a "ticking time bomb" during a political fundraising event in Utah last week.

Such rhetoric, laden with inaccuracies and sensationalism, raises pertinent questions: Is it indeed China that warrants this ominous label, or could it be the United States that teeters on the precipice of global economic instability? Biden's verbal missteps are manifold, revealing an astonishing lack of exactitude when discussing China's economic trajectory. His misinformed and misleading references to China's growth rate and demographic trends betray a superficial grasp of the complex factors shaping China's economic landscape.

Moreover, Biden's audacious assertion that China's purported troubles render it susceptible to nefarious behavior reeks of ignorance and condescension. The pejorative characterization of the Chinese as "bad folks" is not only a slight against the nation's populace but an unfortunate testament to Biden's diplomatic ineptitude.

This isn't the first instance of US politicians resorting to the 'Chicken Little' tactic, heralding China's imminent economic collapse only to be proven wrong time and again. Regrettably, this tactic seems to have become a staple in the playbook of electioneering, an alluring strategy to attract public attention through the vilification of China. In this disconcerting race to the bottom of coherent discourse, the true casualty is factual accuracy. Yet, should the notion of a "ticking time bomb" indeed resonate as a motif, it finds its ironic resonance more aptly in the realm of US economic affairs.

As evidenced by Fitch Ratings' recent downgrading of the United States' debt rating from AAA to AA+, the nation's economic trajectory is far from stellar. Fitch's sobering appraisal attributed this devaluation not to a mere isolated bout of partisan wrangling over the debt ceiling but rather to a protracted decline in governance standards over the course of two decades. This conspicuous erosion pertains specifically to the fiscal and debt dimensions, signifying a chronic predicament rather than a transient hiccup.

Contrasting these realities, one is compelled to discern the glaring disparities between China's measured resilience in the face of global adversities and the United States' own vulnerability. The Chinese economy, while not immune to the challenges posed by the pandemic, has demonstrated an impressive capacity to adapt and persevere. Overcoming hurdles such as youth unemployment and bolstering domestic consumption, China has displayed economic robustness far from the notion of a "ticking time bomb." Conversely, a dispassionate evaluation of the United States' actions on the global stage yields disconcerting results.

The American penchant for unilateralism and protectionism has triggered big disruptions across industries and supply chains, imparting grave repercussions upon the global economy. It is the United States' geopolitical maneuvering, marked by its fervent embrace of destabilizing tactics and machinations, that poses the greatest impediment to a flourishing global economic landscape.

In light of these assessments, it is with an ironic twist that Biden's words turn inward. If he is keen on addressing a "ticking time bomb," he might be well-advised to direct his gaze towards his own country. The United States' penchant for polarization, fiscal imprudence, and bellicose international conduct portrays a nation precariously situated on a veritable time bomb of its own making.

The fragility of its economic governance, coupled with its unilateral disruptions to the international order, paints a bleak picture that starkly contrasts with China's measured resilience. As the world watches, it becomes evident that the real "ticking time bomb" is not an external adversary, but an internal quagmire fueled by shortsightedness, hubris, and neglect. If Biden's aim is to scrutinize such a volatile concept, he might be wise to train his scrutiny on the country he leads, for it is the United States, not China, that epitomizes the troubling notion of an impending detonation on the global economic stage.

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