The Biden administration’s strategy with China is widely anticipated to be a change in style but not substance from the Trump presidency. President-elect Joe Biden will arguably still perceive China as a major competitor, but his approach to deal with Beijing is bound to be less mean-spirited and arbitrary than Trump’s — more consistent and measured. Biden has promised to rebuild U.S. alliance with like-minded countries to pressure China into making changes. He will also likely broaden the litany of demands for changes, from market access to state involvements in the economy, from human rights issues to regional geopolitical conflicts. Biden will move beyond the simple transactional calculations of the Trump administration to command China’s good behavior.
Alas, if Biden’s ambition is still to wage a pressure campaign to gain concessions from China, he will face a number of formidable challenges.