Defending Democratic Values: Transatlantic Policy on China
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden signaled he would sustain a toughened set of policies toward China, reflecting the wider bipartisan rethink on China in recent years. Six months into the Biden administration, that holds true. But while a more critical and competitive approach indeed remains, the administration also wants to leave the door open for cooperation on issues such as health, climate change, and arms control. To maximize the United States’ leverage, the Biden administration has sought to bring in European counterparts and build wider coalitions of democracies in taking on the China challenge. Given the greater role that economics, technology, and values play in U.S.-China competition, it is natural that European allies are playing a more important role in U.S. strategy.
The EU has gone through its own revolution in thinking on China in recent years, encapsulated by the paper labeling China a “systemic rival.” Yet while the United States and the EU have launched a new high-level dialogue on China, and already made progress in areas such as joint Xinjiang-related sanctions, there are still questions about the level of convergence between the two sides given Franco-German signals about charting a more distinct course.
This session will explore questions such as: What is the objective of U.S.-China strategic competition? What role does the U.S. expect its European allies to play? What form of coalition-building is necessary and possible among free-market liberal democracies in addressing “systemic” differences with China? Is it possible to compartmentalize areas where the United States and Europe will compete with China, confront China, and cooperate with China? How far is Europe seeking differentiation for its own sake from the U.S. approach, and how far are there real divergences in transatlantic views?