The Collapse of Biden’s China Doctrine

China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, December 10, 2018. (Fred Dufour/Reuters)
Biden wanted competition and cooperation, but he can’t get both.


ast night’s call between President Biden and Xi Jinping, their second conversation since Biden took office, might foreshadow an easing of the still-hawkish U.S. policy toward China. And not because Washington succeeded in pressuring Beijing to change its ways.

Since taking office, Biden pledged to implement a strategy that blends competition and cooperation; his administration later added confrontation, where necessary, as a pillar of that doctrine. Early on in the administration, all of this amounted to a continuation of the Trump administration’s tough line, with the major exception being climate envoy John Kerry’s talks with his Chinese counterpart. But every indication …

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