Beyond the blunt talk, there was little new in the speech, and the biggest hole in the strategy continues to be its economic vision—despite President Joe Biden’s unveiling of a new 13-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework designed to counter China’s influence. The US didn’t invite China to join that forum, and hasn’t revealed the criteria for other nations to come in.
“The missing piece was a bold trade initiative,” said Richard Fontaine, head of the Center for a New American Security. But there’s little appetite in Washington these days to take on a new free trade agreement.
And despite signaling for months that the administration’s China strategy was almost ready for public airing, key unresolved issues remain, including the fate of tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods that Biden inherited from the Trump administration. A top US trade official said Wednesday that the administration’s review of those tariffs is likely to take months.
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