For the US and China, There’s No Going Back

Even under a Biden administration, the rivalry will only intensify from here.

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For months leading up to the U.S. election, there was no shortage of speculation over who Beijing would prefer to have in the White House in January. In several (unsourced) interviews with Western media, Chinese officials insisted that President Xi Jinping and his inner circle didn’t have a particularly strong preference – that neither a Biden nor a second Trump administration would fundamentally reshape the trajectory of U.S.-China relations. Yet nearly all of Beijing’s recent behavior has betrayed an expectation that there’d be worse to come with either outcome – and that any window of opportunity opened by electoral chaos would likely be far too brief to capitalize on. And for good reason. Beijing’s own immense internal pressures and unforgiving geopolitical imperatives are what’s locking it into its increasingly assertive course. And this, in turn, is forging an increasingly bipartisan consensus in Washington that Communist Party-led China is the country’s foremost strategic and economic challenge. As a result, there will be some tactical differences under a Biden presidency, as well as some changes in what particular challenges the administration prioritizes. But broadly speaking, the U.S.-China rivalry will only intensify from here. The Bipartisan Consensus It’s become fashionable to claim that […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.