U.S.-China trade relations and economic policy are highly politicized within the United States, and are key issues in the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. A theme has emerged in the campaign messaging battles, with neither candidate ceding any ground on their “tough on China” bona fides. But as divergent as Trump and Biden are on many policy issues, when it comes to China and trade, there is some overlap between Trump’s executive actions and Biden’s campaign agenda.
Aggressive U.S. policymaking to call-out and sanction interests within China has strong bipartisan support among Washington officials. The expansion of national security laws in Hong Kong, the treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China’s trade practices and industrial policies, the COVID-19 pandemic, and South China Sea have all converged to put China into the spotlight of the U.S. elections, even more so than in 2016. It can be expected that a challenging U.S.-China relationship will continue regardless of who wins the White House in November. For global businesses, these growing geopolitical and regulatory challenges do not present a static ‘new normal’ to adjust to, but rather an increasingly dynamic environment, requiring more nimble and proactive strategic planning, sourcing, policy, and compliance efforts.