China bugs Biden's State of the Union address | International

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Joe Biden planned, as is customary in these cases, to use his State of the Union address this Tuesday to sell the achievements of his two years in the White House and mark the halfway point of the legislature. His arguments from him? A resilient economy, after all, with retreating inflation and historically good employment data known on Friday, advances in infrastructure, in support for the semiconductor industry or in the financing of medicines, as well as the success of a message, which was effective during the last electoral campaign, that American democracy is in danger if it is left at the mercy of Trumpism.

The Republicans, for their part, thought to take advantage of the occasion for the complete opposite: to alert that the country is beset by a debt, again, historical and that the wasteful Democratic policies are the real culprits of inflation. Also, that now that they dominate the House of Representatives by a hair's breadth, they plan to go out of their way to complicate Biden's second half of the legislature.

So far, all normal. But in these a Chinese spy balloon arrived, invaded US airspace and ended up jumping into the air, after 48 hours of live drama, off the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, in the middle of an escalation of diplomatic tension between both powers. .

An operator finalizes the installation of an "unscalable" security fence around the Capitol, this Monday.Sarah Silbiger (Bloomberg)

So Biden and his team of speechwriters, a team that includes Jon Meacham, a renowned presidential historian, have spent the entire weekend at the Camp David residence expanding on the China portion while the Republicans sharpened the knives in the heat of what they consider a demonstration of weakness, another, of the tenant of the White House.

It is not the first time that international politics has slipped into Biden's annual star television act, a parliament that is followed around the world, yes, but that is designed above all to captivate a domestic audience. Last year, his first State of the Union address came just a week after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; That also forced him to change his plans, and to redirect the recipient of his message. From an entire country to a single person: Russian President Vladimir Putin. "He has no idea what's coming," he told her then.

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It does not seem likely that Biden will use such a harsh tone on Tuesday with Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, in a speech scheduled for 9:00 p.m. in Washington (3:00 a.m., Spanish peninsular time). It is in his best interest, however, to show decision and forcefulness: his second speech as president is the first that he delivers before an audience with a majority of Republican representatives.

They have already announced their plans to investigate the response to the management of the crisis of Biden's Chinese spy balloon, which he assures that he ordered its demolition last Wednesday and that they waited until his collapse did not represent a danger to the population. This investigation would be added to those already launched by the conservatives to question the management of the Government, which they accuse, among other things, of "instrumentalizing" federal agencies such as the FBI for their own benefit in cases such as the confidential papers that former President Donald Trump had at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

The US media have been revealing some details of the tone of Tuesday's speech over the weekend, a text on which, according to what Biden himself made known to his more than 29 million followers on Twitter, he was still working on Monday morning . The president is expected to make a defense of bipartisanship and collaboration on specific issues such as the fight against the opioid epidemic or the eradication of cancer, given that a bloc commitment seems highly unlikely. He is also expected to celebrate the times when Republicans have voted in favor of his economic agenda in the past, such as on the occasion of the infrastructure law.

For Biden, the occasion is also a test of his abilities as a candidate for the White House. It is expected that he will announce in March or April whether or not he will appear, at the age of 80, according to his collaborators. Oratory was never his forte, and such a long speech in front of millions of people is not his idea of ​​an easy process to overcome. During last year's he had several slip-ups, such as when he once confused Iran with Ukraine, so this year's style will abound in short sentences and easy-to-follow words.

Tradition dictates that someone chosen by the other side respond to the presidential address. In this case, the chosen one is Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made a name for herself as Donald Trump's second White House press secretary. On Tuesday, she intends to draw attention, as she has made known in a statement, to "the failures of President Biden." “We stand ready to usher in a new chapter in American history, written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and to expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all,” he vowed. she.

While the workers finalized this Monday in Washington the installation of an "impossible to climb" fence to safeguard the perimeter of the Capitol, where Biden will address a joint audience of senators and congressmen, a series of polls watered him down those hours before the big moment. .

His approval rating is only slightly better than it was last year at this time (42% vs. 41% in 2022, according to an aggregate estimate by FiveThirtyEight): it's the lowest it's been in three-quarters of a century. these heights of the mandate, without counting those of Trump and Ronald Reagan. According to a survey of The Washington Post and ABC News, 62% of Americans believe that Biden "has not accomplished much" or "little or nothing" during the two years of his presidency, while 36% say he has accomplished "a lot."

A survey of Associated Press, For its part, it also shows that only 37% of Democrats approve of Biden seeking re-election (compared to 52% registered in the weeks leading up to last November's elections). These numbers are influenced by the crisis caused by the discovery in Biden's possession of classified documents in a private office and in his family home in Wilmington, belonging to his years as vice president of Barack Obama (2009-2017). That discovery tarnished the best streak of image that is remembered, and that started with the historic disappointment of the Republicans at the polls in the last legislative elections.

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