The Trump administration has taken a more confrontational approach to bilateral relations with China, implementing tariffs on nearly half of all Chinese exports to the U.S. and treating Beijing as a strategic competitor across many aspects of the relationship. In this podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Abigail Grace, a research associate in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, on the changing dynamics of U.S. relations with China and the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy.
Grace discussed the evolution of U.S. foreign policy toward China, drawing on her experience in the National Security Council in both the Obama and Trump administrations. While President Obama focused on working with China to advance multilateral initiatives such as the Paris Climate Agreement and Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Trump has made leveling the playing field for trade and economic relations the priority for the relationship. Grace argued that tariffs have been effective in shifting the focus of bilateral discussions to the economic relationship, but may not lead to any concrete progress on the fundamental strategic issues which the U.S. seeks to resolve. Language in the National Security Strategy labeling China a strategic competitor and revisionist power should not be framed negatively, Grace argued. Instead, such language recognizes Beijing’s elevated status and growing influence on the international stage. Grace said the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific and the Obama administration’s Pivot to Asia strategies both recognize the importance of U.S. engagement in Asia in the 21st century. The administration now faces the challenge of balancing its strategy’s economic, security, and governance components while at the same time upholding U.S. values.
Listen to this episode of the Carnegie-Tsingua Center's "China in the World Podcast" here.
More from CNAS
CommentarySharper: Global Coronavirus Response
As regions across the United States enforce states of emergency and a growing list of countries restrict travel, close schools, and quarantine citizens, the economic and human...
By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens
PodcastChina, Europe, and COVID-19 with CNAS’s Ashley Feng and Kristine Lee
Ashley Feng and Kristine Lee join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to explain China’s response to COVID-19 on the latest episode of Brussels Sprouts. Feng is a Research ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Kristine Lee & Ashley Feng
CommentaryCan the G7 Stop the Coronavirus?
The world’s leading governments are throwing all they have into the coronavirus fight. Recent days have seen dramatic social distancing requirements, novel border controls, ma...
By Gary Edson & Richard Fontaine
CommentaryVirus Competition Is Wrecking China-U.S. Cooperation Hopes
As Washington shifted its worldview over the last several years to a sharp focus on China competition, even the most claw-bearing hawks generally left open the possibility of ...
By Richard Fontaine