4 more years of China clashes, or will the tone shift?


Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, an auto dealer in Pennsylvania, said the focus should not be so much on what the president has said, but on his policy.

“He spoke very clearly: His message was, ‘America first,’ ” said Kelly, co-chairman of the Automotive Caucus.

The November election could lead to a shift in toughness and tone with China, but Scott McCandless, a principal in the tax policy services group for PwC’s Washington National Tax Services, cautions that, for the time being, “tariffs are here to stay.”

There will continue to be friction with China no matter who wins the election, according to Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Trump currently trails Biden, the former vice president, in many polls, but he also trailed Hillary Clinton as Election Day 2016 approached, so the outcome is far from certain.

Biden was critical of the phase one deal, saying in February that it “won’t actually resolve the real issues at the heart of the dispute, including industrial subsidies, support for state-owned enterprises, cybertheft and other predatory practices in trade and technology.”

More recently, he has said he would sanction China over its imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong.

A Biden administration would probably work more closely with international allies to develop a coordinated response to China, Schott said, rather than what the Trump administration has done, which is “go it alone.”

As Xi solidifies his power in China and flexes it in Asia, “the questions going forward will be less ‘What does the U.S. do to try to change China?’ ” said Setser, of the Council on Foreign Relations, “and more ‘What does the U.S. do to try to strengthen domestic U.S. manufacturing?’ ”

Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.

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