The Biden administration has made a controversial decision to lift sanctions on a Chinese Communist group, sparking criticism from Republican lawmakers like Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
The Chinese Communist group in question is the United Front Work Department, an agency of the Communist Party of China which is responsible for coordinating the party’s activities in regards to overseas Chinese and other non-mainland Chinese organizations. The Biden administration stated it was lifting the sanctions due to the group’s “diversification and modernization” of its functions.
Despite the Biden administration’s reasoning, Sen. Blackburn has voiced her opposition to the decision, questioning why the Department of Commerce chose to lift sanctions on the agency. Blackburn believes the decision is indicative of the Biden administration’s policies toward China— one of appeasement and neglect, instead of being tougher on the Chinese Communist Party.
To Blackburn’s point, the United Front Work Department has long been accused of shady activities, such as slowly developing and taking control of overseas Chinese organizations in order to facilitate the smuggling of money, and the infiltration of democracies. Though the Department of Commerce may see the Department’s “modernization” as a positive step, Blackburn worries that the Biden administration is not taking a strong enough stance against the Chinese Communist Party’s malign activities.
What’s more, the decision to lift the sanctions has been seen as a form of appeasement to the Chinese Communist Party. This comes at a time when the U.S. and China are already engaged in a complex trade dispute, one that President Biden recently criticized in a speech. Despite the Biden administration’s protests, the decision to lift the sanctions could be interpreted as a sign of weakness, or at least an attempt to appease the Communist Party.
On one hand, the Biden administration may be attempting to bring China to the negotiating table through less confrontational methods, while on the other it may completely lack the resolve to take a firmer stance against the Chinese Communist Party’s malign activities. Either way, the decision to lift the sanctions— and the call to question it by Sen. Blackburn— is an important reminder that the Biden administration must take an assertive stance toward China if it hopes to achieve true fairness and justice in global affairs.