On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will take office as President of the United States and will face files opened during the Trump era. Among them, that of the openly initiated economic war against China, and as it stands, Biden might have no choice but to continue the work of his predecessor.
« The bullet has already been fired“. It is with this martial expression that an expert in geopolitics contacted by CNBC sums it up: even if Joe Biden doesn’t want to, he will have to continue, at least in part and most likely in a more measured way, Trump’s action against China. As the American media explains, the current president-elect could nevertheless bet on a more targeted approach and above all work more closely with his allies.
What to avoid the unilateral about-faces which marked the mandate of Donald Trump, but the American arsenal against China should for its part remain the same: export taxes, decrees or even economic sanctions.
Towards sustained pressure on China
« Trump completely turned the status quo that had existed between the United States and China for decades», Explains Abishur Prakash, specialist in geopolitics interviewed by CNBC. In this case, Joe Biden would therefore be forced to take the bandwagon. US pressure on China should primarily continue to be exerted on the technology sector.
« I think the administration [américaine] will continue to see technology as a major source of competition and will renew certain approaches [similaires à celles de] Trump to cut the flow of crucial technologies to China », commente pour sa part Adam Segal, directeur du CFR (Digital and Cyberspace Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations). « The difference is that the process employed will be more collaborative, both with the private sector and with allies, and focused on a smaller set of technologies. ».
An opinion shared by Paul Triolo, geotechnology consultant for the Eurasia Group firm. For him, Biden and his teams will also have to “clarify what should be controlled in areas of emerging and fundamental technologies“. Two sectors seem to be the center of attention: artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which will allow a considerable leap in computing power in the years to come.
Securing a few technologies of the future … to protect them
« The preference of Biden’s teams will likely be to control less technology, but to put up high walls around those that are worth protecting for national security reasons.“, Continues the person, who also considers that”the definition of which technologies are essential to control for national security reasons should be much clearer under the Biden administration than during the Trump years ».
« The United States doesn’t have too many options. Either they allow China to dominate the world through technology, or they try to challenge it», Continues Abishur Prakash. For him, Biden should also maintain the measures put in place by Donald Trump to deter the adoption of Huawei’s 5G equipment. As a reminder, this was one of the main axes of Trump’s policy against China, with an impact on the deployment of 5G in France.