The Biden Administration Takes a Hard Stance on China


The relationship between the U.S. and China is a critical foreign policy priority under the Biden Administration. President Biden singled China out as a substantial geopolitical test for the United States in the 21st century. The path forward on China will require several approaches and consensus as to the same threats and challenges with China still exists. This calmer approach relative to the former Trump Administration has smoothed volatility in the stock market.

President Biden’s approach is different from former President Trump’s to address China’s numerous threats and challenges. Because of China’s escalating and growing conflicts, the Biden Administration will have to take concrete actions related to Section 301 and Section 232 tariffs on Chinese imports, reshoring critical supply chains from China to the United States. The new administration will also have to keep a close eye on cyber and currency threats. 

How Will Biden’s Approach Depart From Trump?

President Biden and his officials had purposefully interacted with allies before they approached their  Chinese counterparts. President Biden will not go it alone and instead will use a multilateral approach to China. The Biden Administration will abandon policymaking by tweet, but a deliberative process with U.S. allies will take longer. Biden will seek input from Congress. The Biden approach will focus on consensus, and this approach will also impact the allies of the United States and their future negotiations with China.

A Rocky Start

The new administration first med with their Chinese counterparts in March. After an initial session of heated arguments in front of reporters, the two sides decided to take the matter behind closed doors. There was no joint statement following the first of several meetings by the Secretary of the US Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterparts foreign affairs official Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The focus appears to be actioned by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the U.S., economic coercion toward our allies. There have been some common ground. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua met in Shanghai on April 15 and 16, 2021, and announced a joint statement. The two sides will cooperate and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis. 

The U.S. Has Been Hammering Chinese Cyber Attacks

In the spring, the U.S. Commerce Department added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to its Entity List, citing activities contrary to the national security. American companies are banned from doing business with companies on the entity list. The U.S. has also been working with Japan on several issues related to China. 

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga committed to working together to take on the challenges from China at a joint news preference in the White House Rose Garden.

The two leaders addressed an array of geopolitical issues, including the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. In Washington, the Chinese embassy expressed strong concern to the joint statement, saying China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests.

The Bottom Line

The upshot is that the Biden Administration is taking a different approach relative to the former Trump Administration. Biden appears to be a consensus builder and does not want to focus on One-on-one relationships. This technique will change the way business is done with China by U.S. allies. There are several key tariff issues the Biden Administration will need to tackle. While initial relations between the U.S. and China have been rocky, there are many cyber-attacks, and land grabs that the United States and China will need to work out. 

Yash Ranjan
Yash Ranjan
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