When Joe Biden, the “president-elect”, enters the White House and has since become known as the “president of the United States,” he will inherit relations with China that are at the lowest possible level in decades. Among the items on his to-do list are the issue of “tariffs,” which he acknowledged he would maintain and not change when he enters the White House. Other issues on his agenda include human rights in China’s Xinjiang region and the Cold War, which have raised questions about intelligence, sovereignty and power.
“In addition, the president-elect must rebuild an economy that has been damaged by the corona,” Lauren Hersh wrote in a December 18 report for the New York Times. This can make the focus on foreign affairs more prominent, especially in damaged relations, as well as in the relationship with China, which needs to be rebuilt and repaired. As part of the DealBook DC political project, the New York Times convened a virtual panel of experts in early December to discuss the state of Sino-US relations. The panel also discussed how this situation in the Biden administration could change.
The participants in this discussion are a number of experts on China. The participants generally agreed that Biden would be tough on China and continue on Trump’s path. “I think the style and context will change,” said Dina Powell McCormick, Goldman Sachs’ head of global sustainability and global growth. Materials will not change in the short term. In the medium and long term, I imagine he will inherit a relationship that will be much different than it was four years ago or even under Obama. “I think this will be a unique opportunity.” This opportunity could enable Biden to take a more cooperative approach with China in areas such as climate change and vaccine distribution in the hope of gaining more leverage in areas such as technology; That is, where the United States wants to compete harder with China. “Biden will take a tough approach,” said Sam Sachs, a fellow researcher in China’s cybersecurity and digital economics policy at the New America Institute and a fellow at the Yi Law School’s Paul Tsai Center in China. Will take a “more targeted approach” and ask “where there is a real threat to national security; “Then he will come up with solutions to solve it.”
Ms Sachs warned against focusing too much on the United States and China. “Technological competition between China and the United States will not be increasing in each other’s countries,” he said. “Rather, the ground for this competition will be outside the two countries and in other parts of the world.” “Biden is talking about a big game of working with allies and partners at a time when the digital divide between Europe and the United States should not deepen,” he said. “I think this is one of his first plans: to resolve the digital divide with Europe,” Sachs added. On the other hand, Anderpardi, chief security officer at Huawei Technologies USA, believes that part of the cooperation between the two countries will include creating an international framework for dealing with challenges such as how to protect data flow. “We need to step up our collaborative efforts with our partners to have independent compliance and independent pilot programs,” he said. Therefore, we need some objective basics to know which products and services are worthy of trust. “We need to work together globally to improve security and assurance capabilities and transparency capabilities.”
As the panel’s experts commented on the Biden administration’s approach to China, the Trump administration in its final days on Friday, December 19, several major Chinese companies, including SZ Digi, the world’s largest UAV maker. And the International Semiconductor Manufacturing Company added a huge chip maker for electronics and nanotechnology products to its blacklist. The United States Department of Commerce said on December 19 that there was evidence that the International Semiconductor Company was using civilian technology to cooperate with China’s military industry. The statement said the United States would not allow American technology to be used to help the military of a country whose hostility to the United States is growing. This indicates that Trump intends to fire a shot at relations between the two countries in his last days, and possibly put Biden in a more difficult position against China.
However, James McGregor, president of the Greater China Institute at APCO Worldwide, described the situation as follows: “China has come a long way, but we have been very slow here to invest in our country.” Another expert, Faezeh Saeed of Kravath, Swain & Moore, who was on the panel, said American and Chinese companies would not compete on a flat surface. Chinese government-owned companies enjoy government support over their competitors in the United States. “When China opened its economy to the world, this government support was not what many expected,” he said. Faezeh Saeed adds: “Western companies thought that the reopening of China’s economy to the West would change China, and what we have seen over the last 20 years is that we have changed. There are forces in our society that weaken our solidarity, while it is not China’s fault. “China has always focused on growing and supporting its independence, but we did not achieve what we thought we could achieve by reopening China.”
“The answer for American policymakers is not necessarily ‘to look more like China to defeat China,'” said Domin Ma, director of Marcucolo at the Paulson Institute. “If you look at what the Chinese are doing, you see that they are less involved in industrial policy because they realize that it creates more bubbles and costs more than it’s worth,” he said. Yes they have batteries, they have solar panels but this is a very different success. “Even in China, they are questioning the extent to which they want to advance industrial policy.” Winston Mae, a professor at New York University School of Law, also says “semiconductors” are an industry that China’s industrial policy may conform to. The government continues to support it, but the expert has not seen private venture capital flow at the same rate as artificial intelligence, for example. He says software companies and many startups are trying to compete with the United States.
The New York Times reporter concludes that US financial giants such as Burke and Goldman Sachs developed in China after being allowed to take control of most local sectors for the first time. McGregor says the Chinese allowed them in, perhaps because they had something else in mind. This represents a multi-layered diplomacy that will strengthen relations between the two countries for years to come. In any case, the consensus of experts is that in the Biden administration, some strategies of the Trump administration may continue; But it is also not far-fetched that the two countries could use multilateral diplomacy to pull their relations out of the current tense state and into relatively stable ones.