Once US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration has made the relatively easy decisions to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and remain in the World Health Organization (WTO). But in its attempt to reboot the WTO, the US will confront three key foreign-policy issues. In order of importance, they are China, China, and China.

Biden’s dilemma is that China has become too deviant to cooperate with fully, too big to contain or ignore, and too connected to decouple from. So, what principles should govern America’s economic engagement with it?

Two decades ago, the US and the rest of the world bet that China, as it became richer, would open up economically and politically while remaining benign in its international conduct. Under the resulting implicit contract — embodied in China’s 2001 WTO accession agreement — the world promised to guarantee market access for Chinese exports. In return, China would make its economy more open and transparent and play by international rules.

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