Biden China Tracker

'Biden’s First 100 Days: Setting the Table for U.S.-China Strategic Competition'
'Biden’s First 100 Days: Setting the Table for U.S.-China Strategic Competition'
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Biden’s First 100 Days

4

April 27, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Biden is focused on accumulating as much leverage as possible to deal with China from a position of strength and to dispel the growing Chinese perception that the United States is a power in decline.’

‘The Biden administration is using its first one hundred days to focus on accumulating as much leverage as possible to:’

  • ‘deal with China from a position of strength,’
  • ‘dispel the growing Chinese perception that the United States is a power in decline, and’
  • ‘try to establish the terms of prolonged strategic competition with China.’

‘To these ends, the main contours of the Biden administration’s China policy thus far include investing in U.S. competitiveness, strengthening U.S. alliances, and recommitting to multilateralism.’

  • ‘Abroad, he has made early overtures to U.S. allies and partners—such as the first executive-level Quad summit along with renewed multilateral commitments like the Paris Agreement—are the first of many that will be needed for the United States to reclaim international credibility and leadership.’
  • ‘At home, the administration has focused on containing the pandemic and stimulating the economy with the American Rescue Plan. Biden has also proposed an infrastructure initiative that aims to “position the United States to out-compete China.” ’
  • ‘With China, administration officials have toned down the provocative Cold War–style rhetoric that dominated the Trump administration’s lexicon, as well as the antagonistic and adversarial rhetoric while maintaining a competitive tone, indicating that the administration wants to avoid continuing further down the road of tit-for-tat escalations while still appearing tough on China.’

‘Early actions and statements indicate little desire to revert to a policy of engagement with China.’

  • ‘The administration, much like the one before it, views China as a “strategic competitor” and is intent on implementing policies to better compete with Beijing.’

‘And rather than roll out ad-hoc, one-off policies directed at Beijing, the administration is devising a long-term strategy to compete “without catastrophe.” ’

  • ‘In furtherance of this, the President is conducting thorough strategic reviews within several federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense and the U.S. Trade Representative.’

‘Despite his stated desire to change the U.S. approach toward Beijing, Biden has been hesitant to quickly undo several of his predecessor’s China policies, especially on tariffs and export controls and Taiwan.’

  • ‘The delayed reversal of Trump-era policies again signals an attempt to maintain as much leverage as possible while trying to achieve reciprocal concessions.’

‘In these ways, the president is setting the table for a series of negotiations that allow for competition, confrontation, and cooperation while minimizing the risk of conflict.’

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