Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Wang Huiyao

China Shouldn’t Make Biden’s Job Harder

While no one should expect a dramatic turnaround, the two countries have a chance to put a floor under the world’s most important bilateral relationship. 

Biden may have spent more time with Xi than any other foreign leader.

Biden may have spent more time with Xi than any other foreign leader.

Photographer: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

After four years of erratic “America First” unilateralism under President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a slew of foreign-policy challenges. None is more important than stabilizing relations with China. And, while no one should expect a dramatic turnaround, there’s reason to hope the U.S. and China can at least put a floor under their relationship and even start to cooperate again.

The trade war and Covid-19 have badly damaged mutual trust and virtually frozen high-level dialogue between U.S. and Chinese leaders. There’s bipartisan consensus in Washington, D.C. that China is a “strategic competitor” — a view that will likely only become more entrenched as the country expands and gains influence. Biden’s own advisers have grown more hawkish on China just as the rest of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has.