Biden’s Blue Dot seeks to derail China’s Belt and Road

Amid an escalating new Cold War, the Biden administration is mobilizing allies and partners to slow China’s technological strides and arrest its rising global influence.

In particular, the US has doubled down on reviving the so-called Blue Dot Network, a long-dormant initiative launched by the previous Trump administration to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

“The Blue Dot Network will be a globally recognized symbol of market-driven, transparent and sustainable infrastructure projects,” the US State Department said after the consultation group’s inaugural meeting in Paris earlier this week. 

Aside from major Western governments and Japan, leading academics, civil society leaders and as many as 150 global executives boasting a US$12 trillion in their combined portfolio were in attendance, underscoring the breadth and ambition behind the initiative. 

To counter what critics see as China’s predatory trade practices, the Biden administration has also launched a “supply chain trade strike force,” which will be led by the US Trade Representative.

To bolster the initiative, the Commerce Department is set to invoke a Section 232 investigation into the national security implications of America’s reliance on Chinese rare earths imports, especially neodymium magnet. 

China, for its part, aims to respond in kind, including through retaliatory sanctions against Western rivals, namely the US, and their major companies. The upshot of these tit-for-tat moves is an expanding, high-stakes trade and technological Cold War with no precedence. 

In his State of the Union address in April, President Joe Biden warned of an existential showdown against China for economic and technological primacy in the 21st century. “China and other countries are closing in fast. We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future,” Biden warned. 

He also warned that under President Xi Jinping China is “deadly earnest about becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world,” and that authoritarian superpowers “think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century” because “it takes too long to get consensus” on key national policies. 

Biden’s geopolitical warnings about China and the need for “whole of nation” counter-measures have apparently struck a chord in the deeply divided US Congress. In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the US Senate passed massive industrial policy legislation to significantly enhance the country’s investments in cutting-edge technology.