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Biden Administration’s US National Security Strategy

On October 12, 2022, the White House published its National Security Strategy (NSS) which defines the overall strategic priorities and guidelines for all US government agencies. The 48-page document, when viewed through the lens of Asia Freedom Institute’s focus areas, has significant sections on democracy, human rights, freedom and China.

“Democracy” is mentioned 38 times. It makes up three separate subsections of the report: The Nature of the Competition Between Democracies and Autocracies (page 8), Strengthening Our Democracy (page 16), and Foster Democracy and Shared Prosperity in the Western Hemisphere (page 40). In the opening two-page statement from President Biden, the word democracy comes up four times. Here is an excerpt:

“Autocrats are working overtime to undermine democracy and export a model of governance marked by repression at home and coercion abroad.”

Here is an excerpt on democracy from the main document:

“Americans will support universal human rights and stand in solidarity with those beyond our shores who seek freedom and dignity, just as we continue the critical work of ensuring equity and equal treatment under law at home. We will work to strengthen democracy around the world because democratic governance consistently outperforms authoritarianism in protecting human dignity, leads to more prosperous and resilient societies, creates stronger and more reliable economic and security partners for the United States, and encourages a peaceful world order.”

Human rights and freedom are mentioned 20 and 17 times respectively. Here is an excerpt on human rights:

“Together with our allies and partners, we are also holding states accountable for violations and abuses of human rights, including against ethnic and religious minorities.”

The communities whose work and aspirations are promoted and amplified by the AFI are also mentioned in the strategy document. Here is an excerpt:

“We will hold Beijing accountable for abuses – genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, human rights violations in Tibet, and the dismantling of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms – even as it seeks to pressure countries and communities into silence.” 

Finally, as has been well documented in analysis of the NSS, a significant target of the security strategy is China which finds 9 mentions. Here is a passage that clearly articulates the Biden administration’s position on China:

“The PRC is the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it. Beijing has ambitions to create an enhanced sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power. It is using its technological capacity and increasing influence over international institutions to create more permissive conditions for its own authoritarian model, and to mold global technology use and norms to privilege its interests and values.”   

The strategy also reaffirms America’s “commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act to support Taiwan’s self-defense” and states the US will maintain its capacity “to resist any resort to force or coercion against Taiwan.”

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