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Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden and his advisers have talked a good game about taking on China. This is a surprise to many of us who assumed that Biden would basically kowtow to Beijing. Even on the important matter of the origins of COVID-19, the Biden team has refused to totally dismiss claims that the disease originated from a lab in Wuhan. After a recent cyberattack, in fact, the Biden Administration took the previously unimaginable course of action and publicly accused China of being responsible for the recent Microsoft “cyberattack spree” (they were). This was something not even former President Donald Trump, a noted China hawk, had done.

Yet, as with so many things in the political realm today, appearances can often be deceiving. Perception is rarely reality, after all.

For example, President Biden likes to appear as though he is calling the shots. Although, the reality is much more complicated than that. Multiple reports have surfaced that suggest Mr. Biden is not the one driving his administration. Instead, there are multiple centers of power, all of which are competing with one another on a multitude of issues, such as the administration’s China policy or its Global Warming policy.

When it comes to China, there are three competing centers of power all vying for control over the administration’s policy apparatus. There are the Liberal Hawks, as represented by Kurt Campbell, who genuinely believe that a tougher line toward China is in America’s best interest.

Then there are doves, such as Susan Rice and John Kerry, who yearn for a return to the pre-Trump days of treating China as a partner in peace. For these elements, China is the only hope for resolving what they think is America’s greatest challenge: anthropogenic Climate Change.

The third group are the political hacks who surround Mr. Biden. They’ve no policy preference whatsoever, other than doing whatever makes the president look good in the press. Right now, following the hawk’s lead on China makes Biden look good in the press. So, the political hacks are aligned—for now—with the liberal hawks.

But what happens when it’s no longer politically convenient for Mr. Biden to adhere to the hawkish line about China? And what happens when Biden’s political handlers start legacy shopping for the forty-sixth president?

With China, the chance for Biden to legacy build will likely be too much to pass up—especially the nearer we move to the 2024 presidential election cycle, when hard decisions will have to be made about whether Mr. Biden, who will be 82, will run for reelection or not. I suspect he won’t run again and will attempt to solidify his legacy beyond simply being a “placeholder” Democratic Party president between Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’ presidencies. He can achieve this goal by making Beijing and Washington cooperate on Climate Change.

Biden will reverse course on his outwardly tough stance on China. There is a reason that John Kerry, the consummate Washington insider, was given the role of Climate Czar. Supposedly, Mr. Kerry is housed in a suite of offices at Foggy Bottom, the headquarters for the State Department, which is run by his former protégé, Antony Blinken (who technically outranks Mr. Kerry). It is obvious that the real agenda is not standing up to China—or making them pay for their obvious lies regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020—in the long run.

Instead, the Biden Administration will continue playing the hawkish line about China until after the 2022 midterm elections. From there, it is likely the administration will pivot and abandon its hawkish stance toward China and embrace a dovish posture to achieve its long sought-after Climate Change goals.

Of course, any climate deal made with China will be superficial and one-sided, with the United States required to bear the brunt of that burden (even though China is a far more pernicious emitter of Greenhouse Gases) while China skates by.

But, on paper, Biden will have achieved a supposedly momentous deal. He will be able to retire with grace and will be remembered as the president who saved the environment…or something. Meanwhile, China’s rise as the world’s preeminent superpower will be ensured and America’s role as a second-rate power in a Chinese-dominated world will become a fait accompli.

Do not be fooled by what the Biden administration is doing now against China. Keep an eye out for the longer climate change game—and the self-destructive deal that is likely to follow.

Brandon J. Weichert is the author of “Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower” (Republic Book Publishers). He manages The Weichert Report: World News Done Right. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon. The views expressed are the author’s own.