As the United States electoral race comes to an end, the world holds its breath and focuses its attention on the 46th American president. The new Joe Biden administration not only inherits a pandemic ridden battered economy but also a repugnant foreign policy with the world’s second-largest economy. The multi-year assault that was launched under the Trump administration on Beijing completely changed the dynamics of bilateral relations between the United States and China. Now all eyes are on Biden contemplating the nature of the foreign policy that will take shape during his tenure. The capitals and leaders around the globe are clinging to the hope of a restored US-China relationship to balance the fraying world economy.
The United States self-sabotaged its own image with regard to the diplomatic ties within the southeast region under the Trump administration. Paving way for China to increase its influence and solidify itself as a regional power. What is expected is a new regime under Biden that will work towards rebuilding the shattered image and securing regional interests under the banner of a multilateral economic corridor that ensures collective security parallel to the one offered by China without competing against it. Washington, by providing guarantees, implicitly offering protection by reshaping the foreign aid and development policies that were constrained under the Trump regime, can reform its ties with Southeast Asian countries, enabling them to enjoy constructively the relations with both the United States and China. This approach will not only revitalize the status of the United States as a regional power but will also provide an opportunity for China and the United States to co-exist and pave way for a channel of multilateral partnership based on economic interdependence.
Any policy that the United States administrates towards Taiwan and Hong Kong would be embedded within the framework of its relationship with China. If the Biden administration will move towards a relationship of cooperative engagement with China it would need to strategically direct bilateral ties with Taiwan and Hong Kong without infringing on their relations with China. The United States already has well-established relations with Taiwan what it needs now is not to use Taiwan as a weapon against its policy towards China rather it should work on strengthening the economic ground in terms of trade agreements. This can specifically be carried out in the technological arena which came under crossfire as a result of the US-China tech decoupling. Similarly, in the case of Hong Kong, the United States should diplomatically direct international attention perusing Beijing to relax its policy towards Hong Kong while also acknowledging the rightful sovereignty of China over Hong Kong.
One sour spot that left the US-China relations in such an aggravated state in the last four years has been the persistent pursuit of Trump to get Beijing on the sidelines on North Korea policy. This remains a vital issue for both the countries as the emergence of another nuclear power would hold repercussions for both Washington and Beijing. Joe Biden’s term in office can drastically turn this around and evolve this into a symbolic dimensional approach where the US and China can come together and work on a joint policy constraining North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry. This can set an exemplary milestone and can open the ground for further collaboration and corporation between China-US relations.
The growing tensions between the US and China have radically manifested themselves in all spheres. This intensifying rivalry has led both the countries to distance themselves on mutually held grounds. However, they continue to cross each other’s paths in maritime, space, cyber and aerial domains. In recent time this line has been tiptoed around and if not re-evaluated might accelerate towards a military skirmish. In order to avoid the risk of a conflict, the new US government needs to invest in the development of rules and guidelines that enable smooth proceedings of communication and institutions that work towards improving risk reduction and crisis management.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of deteriorating relations between China and the US can be observed in the realm of economic interdependence. The decoupling of the world’s two biggest economies has a momentous impact in not just domestic but international arena as well. The tariff imposition that got rallied under the Trump administration further kicked any remaining relation to the curb. An alternative US economic strategy is needed that reduces the tariffs laid down on Chinese products and revises the economic policies and align it with that of the allies to open a forum of open dialogue and revitalize the world economy. This will also pave for creating a multilateral technology and cybersecurity policy which was shifted towards a unilateral strategy under the Trump administration. To achieve all these targets a realistic foreign policy is needed that targets American interest but also integrates a framework of a multilateral corporation by formulating the basis for national data security while simultaneously establishing a forum for international technological coordination.
In order for any policy to take effect, it is integral that the rule of law is well-governed. For improved US-China relations legal cooperation is fundamental that will serve US interest in safeguarding national security and strengthening trade and development with China under the rule of law. This would also extend and address the human rights concerns under international law. In recent times the US and China have failed to come towards a constructive exchange of legal corporation, it has become a general perception that US-China engagement had failed and China is being governed by an authoritarian system that has no regard for the law. This narrative appears to be deplorable for both countries. The new US administration can effectively work towards bridging this gap by administrating legal policies based on cooperation instead of ultimatums that also work towards solidifying the bilateral relations between the two countries.