With a new administration in Washington, China is hoping to improve relations with the US after four years of hostility from Donald Trump.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that Beijing wants to work with the Biden administration to get relations “back on track.”
“Despite our differences, China and the United States share a wide range of mutual interests and there is room for cooperation,” she said, a few hours before Joe Biden was inaugurated. “We also share unique responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and development.”
Despite Hua’s hopes, it looks like the Biden administration will take a hostile approach to Beijing. During confirmation hearings on Tuesday, Biden’s nominees made their stance on China clear.
Antony Blinken, the secretary of state nominee, said Trump was right in “taking a tougher approach to China,” although he disagreed with how Trump went about it.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who was confirmed on Wednesday, said the US should take an “aggressive stance” against Beijing. Haines said she would prioritize combatting Chinese “counterintelligence.”
A report from Politico on Tuesday said Biden tapped Ely Ratner to advise his secretary of defense on China matters. Ratner is a China hawk who works for the interventionist Center for a New American Security think tank. In September 2020, Ratner co-authored an op-ed titled, “Trump Has Been Weak on China, and Americans Have Paid the Price.”
In its final weeks, the Trump administration ramped up the pressure on Beijing through sanctions on Chinese officials, bans on investments in Chinese firms, and a declaration of genocide in Xinjiang, something Blinken said he agreed with. While Biden might not have taken such hostile steps against China, it is unlikely that he will reverse Trump’s moves.