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Joe Biden’s No Compromise China Strategy

Joe Biden in Deep Thought
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with advisors for a health care implementation meeting in the Oval Office, March 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

We had a chance to chat with Gordon Chang, author of the book The Coming Collapse of China, on what he thinks the incoming Biden Administration will do when it comes to China but also its overall approach to Asia in general. Here is a readout of the conversation below:

President Obama famously pivoted or rebalanced to the Asia-Pacific. Many experts have called it a failure, as it did nothing to contain China’s rise or negate its bullying behaviors. Considering many of the same people will staff the Biden Administration, what lessons do you think they can take away from the Obama years?

Incoming Biden officials should realize there can be no compromise with a militant regime that violated just about every promise it made to President Obama. What’s the point of trying to reach even more agreements that Beijing will dishonor? Why would President Biden want to leave himself open to criticism for being so naïve the second time around?

Clearly, there are many challenges Biden will face when it comes to China. Is there any specific issue that should be tackled first, such as economic competition, the military balance, the South China Sea or Taiwan? Is there something pressing that needs to be tackled first?

China’s challenge to America is existential. President Biden should immediately mount a defense on all fronts. There’s not a moment to lose on any of them. The first priority is to cut off the flow of American cash to the Chinese regime. Why should Americans enrich China with the proceeds of trade and investment when Beijing will use the cash to build a military preparing to kill Americans?

When it comes to trade, there was much hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would knit the U.S. to Asia and exclude China at the same time—a pact Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of. Do you see Biden trying to get back into the TPP considering the rise of RCEP?

The signing of the RCEP deal will certainly put pressure on President Biden to resurrect the TPP, and I am sure he will try to do so. Biden loves multilateral deals.

Finally, China has tried to test India over the last few months with recent border clashes that had many worried a regional conflict was possible. What can a Biden Administration do to enhance ties with India, something Team Trump had some success with?

All Biden has to do is follow the Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump consensus that it is important for the United States to strengthen ties with India. India is one of the world’s frontlines against Chinese aggression, so it is in our interest to provide any support New Delhi needs. President Biden should do all he can to further the development of the Quad, the grouping comprising India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. India needs our help, and it is in our interest to provide it.

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.