Analysis & Opinions - Orange County Register

How to Create a Better U.S.-China Relationship

| Dec. 27, 2022

President Biden's first in-person meeting with China's Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Indonesia this November featured a welcomed shift in tone from both leaders. After months of deepening friction between Beijing and Washington, the two presidents emphasized mutual engagement to confront shared global challenges.

Although they have held five calls since Biden became president, these are no substitute for direct dialogue. The Biden administration should build on this thaw in U.S.-China relations by increasing contact with China across all levels of government to find new opportunities for tackling shared problems.

Over the last several years, the Sino-American relationship has noticeably deteriorated. Differences over trade during the Trump presidency emerged as a flashpoint, but since Biden's inauguration in January 2021, the hostility has increased. Senior American officials have repeatedly labeled China as the greatest challenger to the U.S.-led international order, a distinction solidified by the Biden administration's 2022 National Security Strategy. Most critically, tensions have grown over the future of Taiwan with Beijing and Washington each ramping up the heated rhetoric, raising the specter of armed confrontation.

It is this context that makes Biden and Xi's warmer attitude after their summit so striking. While few expect a breakthrough on the issues plaguing the bilateral relationship, their language was an important sign both leaders view unrestricted rivalry as a likely disaster that could lead to potential war.

This tonal shift means there is a valuable opening for China and the United States to take significant steps toward improving ties. Expanding and regularizing face-to-face contact is a beneficial place to start....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Golub, Grant and Yameen Huq.“How to Create a Better U.S.-China Relationship.” Orange County Register, December 27, 2022.

The Authors