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Biden’s Asian Triangle

The Japan-US alliance remains popular in both countries, which need each other more than ever. Together, they can balance China’s power and cooperate with China in areas like climate change, biodiversity, and pandemics, as well as on working toward a rules-based international economic order.

CAMBRIDGE – How Joe Biden handles China will be one of the defining issues of his presidency. He inherits a Sino-American relationship that is at its lowest point in 50 years. Some people blame this on his predecessor, Donald Trump. But Trump merits blame for pouring gasoline on a fire. It was China’s leaders who lit and kindled the flames.

Over the past decade, Chinese leaders abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s moderate policy of “Hide your strength, bide your time.” They became more assertive in many ways; building and militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea, intruding into waters near Japan and Taiwan, launching incursions into India along the countries’ Himalayan border, and coercing Australia economically when it dared to criticize China.

On trade, China tilted the playing field by subsidizing state-owned enterprises and forcing foreign companies to transfer intellectual property to Chinese partners. Trump responded clumsily with tariffs on allies as well as on China, but he had strong bipartisan support when he excluded companies like Huawei, whose plans to build 5G networks posed a security threat.