As the US transitions to a Biden Presidency, there is inevitable anxiety among countries, institutions, and people at the receiving end of China's unilateral assertions based on its accrued economic, technological, and military strength. For decades, especially since 1979, US policy was "engagement" with China in the belief and advocacy that this would lead to political and economic liberalization. The Deng-articulated policy of "hide and bide" did not challenge this assumption directly. The Obama-Biden administration, from 2009- 2016, struggled to find the right approach, moving from "strategic reassurance" to "pivot" and then "rebalance" to Asia. But it shied away from effectively preventing Chinese militarization of features in the South China Sea, and did not support Japanese and Philippines claims on Scarborough and Senkaku. The Trump Administration also initially vacillated, but since its National Security Strategy of December 2017, defined China as a rival, and ratcheted up tariff, technology denial, and other restrictions.
Would a Biden Administration build further on the Trump-era characterization of China as rival, predator, authoritarian; or would it be conditioned more by the search for common ground on climate change, arms control, and global economic revitalization? How is China viewing the change in Washington? Does Beijing expect an easing of the tensions that marked relations with the Trump administration, or is it bracing for the prospect of a more effective American response predicated on a more coherent strategy involving US allies and partners? What impact will the changing US-China dynamic have on India-China relations, at a time when numerous voices in China are situating recent tensions with India against the backdrop of a closer India-U.S. relationship?