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Foreign Policy

China’s Possible Approaches to the US under Joe Biden

With a new administration taking over in the US, how will China deal with the legacy of hard-line China policies left behind by Donald Trump?

For one, expect Beijing to try deflection. It will talk about being misunderstood and of overriding “common interests” as Foreign Minister Wang Yi did in December 2020,[1] and his deputy Le Yucheng[2] as well as Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan[3] did at the end of January 2021 or to spout vague inanities as “cooperative competition” as former Chinese diplomat Fu Ying did earlier in November in The New York Times.[4] The objective is to sound conciliatory even as China puts forward its interests clearly. For instance, the People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column, which during the Trump years did not mince words in attacking the US and its actions, welcomed the Biden administration with a toning down of language and offers of cooperation.[5]

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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy

Biden’s China Agenda: Two Missteps Require Repair

It is not surprising that American president-elect Joe Biden wants to reverse much of the incumbent Donald Trump’s shambolic and disruptive foreign policies. But on at least one aspect of Trump’s foreign policy – China – Biden should be building on and staying the course. 

The only change required is to forego Trump’s propensity to cut deals with the Chinese in favour of short-term gains. Biden can bring in consistency and firmness and be willing to make it costly for China to renege on promises. But there are already at least two Biden moves with implications for China policy that raise some concerns about how well the incoming administration understands China or America’s partners.