It has been a bad few months for relations between the United States and China. The Trump Administration has used its last few months in office to impose a series of sanctions against Chinese companies, while ostentatiously developing closer ties with Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province. Congress has passed laws targeting China over a number of issues, including China’s handling of Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The Chinese have struck back with sanctions of their own, retaliating against each perceived American slight.

Now, the imminent inauguration of Joseph Biden as president of the US has raised hopes for a more “adult” relationship between the two nations. But the underlying forces shaping this relationship are likely to limit any improvement we can expect while the strategic competition between the two big powers will probably stiffen. This evolving pattern of big power tussles in Asia will complicate the lives of smaller nations in the region.

How will Biden approach China?

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