Even With New EV Tariffs, Biden’s Climate Agenda Benefits China

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will raise tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles. But make no mistake—even with the new tariffs, his administration’s green agenda benefits China immensely.

To date, President Biden’s plan to build “America’s clean energy future” has resulted in expensive gas, problematic regulations, and arbitrary environmental standards, all of which have benefitted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while harming U.S. prosperity and national security.

Now, Biden is reportedly considering declaring a “national climate emergency,” and climate activists around the country are applauding him for it. Though their praise may be more muted, you can be sure that the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are doing the same.

China has benefited from the U.S.’ environmental movement for decades. In 1992, Premier Li Peng insisted that developed countries are obligated to support developing countries and even transfer technology in the name of a cleaner environment. Even as China’s fossil fuels and domestic coal production surged exponentially, Beijing positioned itself as an international champion of the climate agenda.

Unfortunately, the smokescreen worked. Prominent U.S. politicians such as Al Gore and John Kerry worked tirelessly on international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which restricted avenues for U.S. energy production while allowing China to continue building coal power plants.

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China has accelerated its strategy at America’s expense, and things have only gotten worse under the Biden administration.

Early on, Beijing recognized that the administration believes climate change—not China—is the number-one national security threat to the U.S., and it took advantage. At every turn, the CCP has used the specter of climate catastrophe to push the Biden administration to sacrifice American interests in favor of climate agreements. For example, last year, the Biden administration shelved sanctions on Chinese officials and details on the Chinese spy balloon to preserve climate cooperation and not provoke Beijing.

HEBEI, CHINA – NOVEMBER 19: Smoke billows from smokestacks and a coal fired generator at a steel factory on November 19, 2015 in the industrial province of Hebei, China. China’s government has set 2030 as…

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Today, China’s manufacturing sector has secured chokeholds not only on electric vehicles, but on many of the world’s green energy products, such as solar panels and wind turbines. Indeed, almost every ambitious target adopted by climate change activists pushing President Biden to declare a national emergency would require mass adoption of heavily subsidized Chinese “green” technologies and equipment.

Take solar panels, for instance. China’s anticompetitive practices mean American solar panel producers cannot compete with cheap Chinese solar panels subsidized by the CCP and often built using slave labor from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where China is actively committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims. The problem is so bad that today China accounts for 75 percent of all solar panels produced globally, leaving only 16 companies building solar panels in America.

China is also the world’s largest producer and processor of rare earth elements, which are essential for green energy products and technologies, such as the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. For the Biden administration to meet its goal of 50 percent of cars sold in 2030 being zero-emission electric vehicles, it would require “ten times the amount of rare earth elements [the U.S.] currently has” domestically. In other words, Biden is making America’s automobile industry dependent on China.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Regardless of one’s opinion about climate change, there’s simply no reason to believe that China is an ally or can be considered a trustworthy partner.

President Biden’s current plan for America’s “clean energy future” allows our number-one adversary to control vast swathes of our energy infrastructure, deprives millions of Americans of well-paying jobs, and does little to help the environment.

Biden would be wise to stop pursuing this counterproductive agenda and start prioritizing American energy independence by withdrawing from costly agreements that restrict our energy production and give the CCP a competitive advantage.

The CCP has consistently taken advantage of America’s climate agenda to advance its own narrow interests, putting U.S. national and energy security at grave risk. In the years ahead, the U.S. must put an end to China’s manipulation of the climate agenda and put the American people first.

Erin Walsh is Senior Research Fellow for International Affairs in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation. Andrew J. Harding is Research Assistant in the Center.

The views expressed in this article are the writers’ own.