The internal divisions within the Democrat Party are coming to the forefront again as a cadre of progressive advocacy groups have just sent a letter to President Joe Biden and members of Congress calling for greater cooperation with China on climate change and less confrontation regarding that country’s crackdown on Hong Kong and human rights abuses against Uyghur minorities, as Politico reports.
Amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing, the more than 40 far-left activists groups that signed the letter claimed that actions designed to combat climate change are far more important than taking a hardline stance against forced labor, human rights violations, and unethical economic warfare.
Organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sunrise Movement, CODEPINK, and MoveOn demanded that Biden and American lawmakers “eschew the dominant antagonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis.”
According to the signatory groups, “Nothing less than the future or our planet depends on ending the new Cold War between the United States and China. To combat the climate crisis and build a global economy that works for everyday working people – in the U.S. and China alike – we must shift from competition to cooperation.”
Biden, however, has hinted at an unwillingness to soften his administration’s stance against China in a significant way, saying earlier this year, according to Fox News, that the tensions between the global powers is “a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies.”
Even so, progressives believe that unless Biden scales back the rhetoric and foreign policy actions perceived as hostile toward Beijing, he may put another of his declared priorities – reversing climate change – in serious jeopardy. “His entire climate change agenda could be at risk if his anti-China campaign continues and grows,” claimed Erik Sperling, executive director of Just Foreign Policy.
In May, as Politico noted, far-left Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN) implored Biden not to escalate when it comes to China, saying, “We need to distinguish between justified criticisms of the Chinese government’s human rights record and a Cold War mentality that uses China as a scapegoat for our own domestic problems and demonizes Chinese Americans.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) agrees with Omar’s tack, declaring, as Politico further noted, “We need a strategic approach to China that prioritizes our national security and economic competitiveness while creating spaces for cooperation on climate change and other global issues. I would have an approach of competitive cooperation.”
That approach puts progressives in Congress on a collision course with their more moderate colleagues however, including Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who says there is no room for leniency when it comes to the Chinese threat. “There should be little doubt that China and the Communist Party under Xi Jinping’s brand of hyper-nationalism is unlike any challenge America has ever faced,” said the lawmaker, signaling that there really may be no end in sight to the Democrats’ internal strife.