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Condoleezza Rice backs Biden China policy

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly endorsed the Biden administration's China policy in an interview Wednesday at the Aspen Security Forum with Face the Nation Moderator Margaret Brennan.

She pointed to the administration's efforts to strengthen an alliance — known as the Quad — that brought India into the fold with the United States, Australia and Japan. The alliance's otherwise unstated strategic goal is to counter growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.

"I absolutely approve," said Rice, who first served as national security adviser for President George W. Bush before she became his secretary of state. "The Bush administration, we sort of started the idea of the Quad and they have taken it. And, as President Biden said, they've run with that idea."

Rice thinks the Quad will have to contend with China's provocations in the region and predicted a "stealthy effort to destabilize Taiwan" and "make it ungovernable."

That strategy is similar to one deployed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Eastern Ukraine, Rice said, which agitates the international community, but does not necessarily prompt action.

"You're looking at, let me call it, the 'Putin playbook' in eastern Ukraine," Rice said. "The goal of which would be to say to the Taiwanese people, we can make this pain stop if you'd like to have a more pro-Beijing government."

For his part, President Biden unexpectedly injected certainty into the United States long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, which has long been governed by the Taiwan Relations Act. It commits the U.S. to supporting Taiwan's self-defense but stops short of a guarantee of the US military coming to its defense.

"Yes, we have a commitment to do that," Biden said when asked if the U.S. would defend Taiwan if it were attacked.

The White House later walked back the statement.

"The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act," a Senior White House Official said in a statement. "We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan's self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo."

However, Rice didn't view Biden's remarks in a negative light. 

"Whether it was intentional or not, I don't think it was a bad thing, actually," Rice said.

Despite China's flex in the Pacific, Rice pointed to domestic challenges that are on the horizon. She said that China's crackdown on private business won't aid a slowing Chinese economy.

"I don't really believe Jack Ma just wanted to spend more time with his family, and that's why he stepped down from Alibaba," Rice said. "They seem to be slowly destroying the private, entrepreneurial, innovative class that has been one of the secrets to their growth."

"If you were in one of those failing state owned enterprises, the Alibaba's and the Tencents of the world are really a challenge to you," Rice said. "And so it looks a little bit like the revenge of the central planners in China, and that will slow their economic growth as well."

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