Biden China Tracker

by Malcolm Riddell

Biden’s First 100 Days
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'What does Biden’s first 100 days tell us about his approach to China?'

Brookings

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David Dollar | Brookings
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April 29, 2021
'What does Biden’s first 100 days tell us about his approach to China?'
'What does Biden’s first 100 days tell us about his approach to China?'
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David Dollar | Brookings

Biden’s First 100 Days

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BIG IDEA | ‘What we have learned from the first 100 days is that we are likely to have both a confrontational and competitive relationship with China, similar to Trump’s policy but with some important nuances.’

‘What we have learned from the first 100 days is that we are likely to have both a confrontational and competitive relationship with China, similar to Trump’s policy but with some important nuances.’

‘Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indicated that there are three types of issue areas when it comes to China, ones where we will:’

  1. ‘confront China,’
  2. ‘compete, and’
  3. ‘cooperate on the basis of common interests.’

‘In the first 100 days the emphasis has been on confrontation, with competition also being prominent.’

  • Biden’s language has been more about seeing China as a competitor than as treating China as an adversary.’
  • ‘There is little evidence of cooperation, the one exception being Xi Jinping’s participation in Biden’s virtual climate summit.’

1 | ‘Confrontation’

‘The Biden team was in no hurry to deal with China, waiting a long time to schedule a first phone call between the presidents or to have any high-level meetings.’

‘Secretary Blinken met with his counterpart, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, in Alaska.’

  • ‘The initial frosty exchange between Secretary Blinken and State Councilor Yang Jiechi made it clear that there would be no re-set in U.S.-China relations. ‘
  • ‘But, one important nuance is that the Biden team has discontinued the demonization of the Chinese Communist Party and the implied calls for regime change.’

‘On the security side, so far the Biden administration has maintained and even stepped up enhanced engagement with Taiwan.’

2 | ‘Competition’

‘A third area of continuity is in the economic realm.’

‘Candidate Biden criticized Trump’s tariffs aimed at China as a poorly targeted instrument that hurts the American economy (a Federal Reserve study found that they cost us more than 100,000 jobs).’

  • ‘Nevertheless, the new administration is leaving the tariffs in place for the moment, as well as the “Phase 1” trade deal in which China agreed to make large purchases of specific American products.’
  • ‘United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai has indicated a willingness to negotiate with China.’

‘Technology has been emphasized by the new administration as an area of competition with China.’

  • ‘The administration is proposing ambitious spending on infrastructure, broadly defined to include more funds for R&D and targeting of particular technologies, defending in Congress as needed to compete with China and to prevent China from dominating the technologies of the future.’
  • ‘These efforts to increase innovation in the U.S. are complemented by various efforts to limit diffusion of technology to China via export and investment restrictions.  These policies started under Trump and have been modestly expanded under Biden.'
  • ‘Treasury and Commerce Departments are reviewing these sanctions and there may be some modest fine-tuning once the reviews are over.’

3 | ‘Cooperation’

‘The only real area of cooperation between China and the U.S. so far is that President Xi Jinping was one of the dozens of heads of state who participated in Biden’s virtual climate summit on April 22.’

‘President Biden has emphasized rebuilding partnerships with allies in order to counter China.’

  • ‘The allies welcome the return of the U.S. to multilateralism, but most of them are not interested in a new Cold War.’
  • ‘Our allies have deeper trade and investment relations with China than we do; and, in fact, since Biden’s election the EU, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN have all signed new economic agreements with China.’
  • ‘So there is some contradiction between the U.S. confronting China and working multilaterally, so it is likely that over time Biden’s China policy will have to become either less confrontational or more unilateral.’

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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Biden Doctrine
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The Biden Doctrine and Its Discontents

President Biden has framed China as a threat both to the U.S. and the liberal world order.
7/15/2021

The Economist

CHINADebate

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Biden Doctrine
3

'What's Wrong with Biden’s new China doctrine'

‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
7/15/2021

The Economist

CHINADebate

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Biden Doctrine
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Part 2 | Joe Biden is determined that China should not displace America

‘Mr Biden’s aides invariably start any discussion of China strategy with the need to restore American greatness after decades of decline.’
7/15/2021

The Economist

CHINADebate

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Biden Doctrine
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Part 1 | 'Joe Biden is determined that China should not displace America'

‘Biden’s emerging China strategy, while still protean, sounds of a kind with Mr Doshi’s prescription for “blunting and building”.’
7/15/2021

Center for Strategic and International Studies

CHINADebate

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Pierre Morcos | Center for Strategic and International Studies
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G7 to D10
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'NATO & China's Challenges to Europe'

‘Even though China does not pose a direct military threat to NATO, contrary to Russia or terrorist groups, Beijing’s growing economic influence and diplomatic assertiveness in Europe coupled with its growing military relationship with Russia do have major implications for the transatlantic economy as well as its security.’
6/9/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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G7 to D10
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Biden Worries China Might Win

‘Biden has taken the vital first step of correctly diagnosing the strategic challenge facing the country.’ ‘Like Harry Truman at the start of the Cold War and George H. W. Bush at its end, the president now has an opportunity to create a framework for a new era.’
6/9/2021

The Washington Post

CHINADebate

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Joe Biden | President of the United States
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G7 to D10
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Joe Biden: 'My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies'

‘This is a defining question of our time: Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world?’
6/9/2021

The Atlantic

CHINADebate

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Thomas Wright | Brookings
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G7 to D10
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'Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win'

‘Biden worries that China is in competition for America, and not only that—they might win. This belief underpins the Biden doctrine.’
6/9/2021

The Atlantic Council

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G7 to D10
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'From the G7 to a D-10: Strengthening democratic cooperation for today's challenges'

‘A “Democratic-10” or “D-10” is aimed at rallying the world’s most powerful democracies around a common cause— advancing a rules-based democratic order based on shared values and common interests.’
6/9/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Postscript: China Doubts U.S. Allies Support

'Chinese leadership is also cynical about the effectiveness of a U.S.-led Cold War-style bloc.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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China's ‘Anti-Hegemonist Bloc’

‘To counter U.S. coalition building, China has enhanced its diplomatic, economic, and military relationship with both Russia and Iran in recent months, resulting in the closest ties these countries have had in the post-Cold War era.’
5/30/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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Biden’s China strategy
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What China Thinks About Biden's China Policy

And that is what makes Cheng Li’s ‘Biden’s China strategy: Coalition-driven competition or Cold War-style confrontation?' so valuable. Cheng has decades of close relationships with China’s leaders and high officials. They trust him not to attribute their comments and so speak freely and honestly to him. Cheng is the person I rely on most to convey China’s positions.
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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'Final Thoughts'

'Just as Brzezinski foresaw the two new contending blocs –– requiring greater “geostrategic skill” –– that are forming today, Kissinger has emphasized the unprecedented dangers that AI could introduce into a divided world.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Worse for China than Trump

‘Many Chinese now believe that the Biden administration could be more detrimental to U.S.-China relations than the Trump administration.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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The Trump Legacy

‘From Beijing’s perspective, the hawkish approach to China in the final year of the Trump administration revealed that the Trump team sought to defeat and destroy China in much the same way that the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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'Biden’s China strategy: Coalition-driven competition or Cold War-style confrontation?'

‘Senior officials on the foreign policy team have frequently emphasized three “C” words: competition, cooperation, and confrontation.’
5/30/2021

Brookings

CHINADebate

Cheng Li
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Brookings

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Biden’s China strategy
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Biden’s ‘Anti-China Bloc’

‘Throughout President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, his administration has largely continued the Trump administration’s hawkish approach toward China.’ ‘President Biden has also made international coalition building to confront the growing power and influence of China his primary foreign policy initiative.’ ‘Chinese leaders and the public are not convinced by the statements recently made by President Biden that these U.S.-led alliances are “not anti-Chinese” and that the United States is “not looking for confrontation” with China.’
5/30/2021

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PRC

CHINADebate

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Wang Wenbin | Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
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Biden’s First 100 Days
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'China's Response to Biden's Speech'

‘It is natural for the two sides to have competition in some fields, but we should advocate fair competition, like competing with each other for excellence in a racing field, not beating each other on a wrestling arena.’
4/29/2021