January 19, 2021

U.S.-China: Progressive Internationalist Strategy Under Biden

Tobita Chow, Jake Werner

This article is part of our series “On the Precipice: A Progressive Agenda in the Biden Era.” Download a PDF of the full series here.

The incoming Biden administration stands at a crossroads. Down one path lies intensifying great power conflict over zero-sum possibilities for growth in the global economy, increasingly venomous nationalism as the currency of political legitimacy, and ever stronger pressures to focus national wealth and talent on military power. Down the other path is an egalitarian global economy with opportunity for everyone, an effective and equitable response to the coronavirus pandemic, a globally just climate transition, and a new era of international peace built not on North–South inequality but dignity and inclusion.

The single most important factor deciding which path humanity will follow is the U.S.–China relationship: whether the world’s two most powerful countries devote their efforts to a destructive contest for supremacy or instead work together to reshape and renew the global system. Yet as Biden’s foreign policy appointees gaze upon the choice between great power conflict and multilateral cooperation, they seem to believe they can travel both paths at the same time.

The Biden administration thus presents difficult terrain for progressives. In contrast to right-wing forces, at least some parts of the Biden administration will share many of our goals. Yet most of those same people are committed to “competing” with China in ways that will actively undermine the conditions necessary to achieve progressive change. Understanding this challenge and formulating an effective strategy are urgent tasks for progressive politics.

The rise and fall of neoliberal US–China peace

In the two decades leading up to the 2008 global financial crisis, the U.S. and China established a stable, symbiotic relationship founded on neoliberal patterns of growth and legitimacy. The neoliberal accommodation strongly served elite economic interests in both countries: Chinese businesses received investment, access to advanced technology, and a huge export market while American businesses exploited cheap factory labor and gained entry to the world’s fastest growing market. Profit and corruption flourished as local and transnational capital collaborated to destroy the power of labor in both countries.

As earlier concentrations of production were abandoned, large rust belts emerged in the American Midwest and China’s Northeast inhabited by workers left to fend for themselves on the margins of the economy.[1] In both countries, capital concentrated in major urban areas, creating a small number of high-paying professional jobs and a huge number of low-paying service jobs seeing to the needs of professionals. In China and the U.S. alike, these low-wage jobs were largely performed by vulnerable migrants.

Yet the basis for U.S.–China accord was more than just the pecuniary gain of powerful people at the expense of the majority. Neoliberal ideology promised greater individual freedom, more and better consumer choices, plentiful job opportunities, greater respect for human rights and cultural difference, international peace, and cosmopolitan connectedness. In this period of engagement between the U.S. and China, those promises seemed to be making genuine progress.

All of that changed after 2008. The debt bubbles that had driven U.S. growth, Chinese exports, and Americans’ sense that life was getting better in the absence of wage increases collapsed nearly overnight. Though China’s enormous stimulus spending helped save the global economy as the rich countries turned to punishing austerity, it also pushed many U.S. businesses out of the China market while inflating huge debt bubbles in China that have been a source of intense anxiety for Chinese leaders ever since.[2]

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping accompanies U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on August 18, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The success of China’s industrial policy together with its crisis-era stimulus spending and stagnation in the global economy led to enormous production overcapacity in sectors like steel, cement and shipbuilding, causing serious deflationary pressures worldwide. Overcapacity is as much the outcome of inadequate demand as of excess supply. Thus the neoliberal global economy’s suppression of wages and consumer demand, and the persistent low rates of productivity growth in the market-driven investment system, were equally to blame. Yet American businesses and policymakers, unable to see beyond the low-wage labor regime and short-term investment patterns, blamed China for what were in fact problems with the whole system.

As the economic logic that had knit together China and the U.S. disintegrated, the cultural and ideological supports of neoliberal society were also crumbling. Popular antipathy targeted everything from multiculturalism to free trade, immigration to economic inequality, cosmopolitan culture to selfish individualism, sexual freedom to fragmented politics. Populism, nationalism, and egalitarianism suddenly emerged from the margins on both the left and the right and began to challenge mainstream politics.

Elites in the U.S. and China alike were profoundly shaken by the simultaneous decay of economic growth and political legitimacy. As they sought to adapt to the new environment of economic stagnation and reassert their authority over domestic discontent, each found themselves running up against the efforts of the other to survive under the new conditions. In both countries, vilifying the other became increasingly attractive to channel public anger into nationalism against a foreign threat, in hopes of imposing unity on the fractious population and mobilizing the nation for competition within the newly zero-sum global environment. Thus both sides have failed to address the root causes of economic and political turbulence and are instead only deepening the crisis.

Contradictions in the Biden administration

The incoming Biden administration marks a clear break with the Trump approach to China, but a shared set of assumptions aligns the two on key issues. The Biden team’s criticism of Trump has focused on three key themes: the damage done to traditional alliances and partnerships, the failure to win concessions on economic grievances despite an intense trade war, and the turning away from “American values” of democracy and human rights.

In other words, the Biden team broadly agrees with the aims of Trump’s confrontation with China and is primarily concerned that the administration’s tactics have been ineffective. Even the issue of “values” is best understood as a matter of efficacy: U.S. foreign policy thinkers apply their stated values selectively to put adversaries on the defensive and to firm up alliance ties with the richest countries.

The danger is that the Biden administration will, indeed, be more successful at mobilizing American society and U.S. allies against China. As the confrontation deepens, intensifying insecurity on both sides would become self-sustaining. In the process, it would increasingly divert attention away from the root problem—the zero-sum strictures of the global system—and instead focus efforts on defeating the other side. That could lead to a far more destructive confrontation than has Trump’s disorganized bluster.

Based on statements both before and after the election by leading figures like Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser designee Jake Sullivan, the administration’s early China initiatives can be divided among those that will reduce tensions in the short term; those that will quietly aggravate and deepen existing disputes, threatening a serious break in the relationship; and those that offer the possibility of a fundamentally different relationship, pointing in a progressive direction.

Immediate improvements: Trump’s 2018–2019 trade war may have drawn the most attention, but the administration’s regulatory and military moves were more damaging to China. Such measures surged in 2020, when Trump’s desperate search for a scapegoat to distract from his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic provided an opening within the administration for hawks to implement an even more aggressive agenda. Escalation grew throughout the year, including extraordinarily reckless anti-China rhetoric, multiple dangerous military provocations, a belligerent diplomatic offensive in Asia, and increasingly damaging restrictions on Chinese companies and immigrants.

With the significant exception of measures against Chinese business, Biden will likely move quickly to dial back the more inflammatory policies. This will reduce the chances of a military conflict around Taiwan or the South China Sea. It will also slow, for the moment, the alarming build-up of popular nationalism in both countries. A more subdued diplomatic posture thus provides space for the assertion of a progressive alternative that was unthinkable when the Trump administration was setting fire to the relationship and Chinese leaders responded in kind. Yet this window of opportunity could be quite limited.

Deepening antagonism: Biden’s aspirations risk being seen as an existential threat by the Chinese leadership in both the economic and military realms. In an interview with Thomas Friedman after the election, Biden laid out his economic agenda: “to pursue trade policies that actually produce progress on China’s abusive practices—that’s stealing intellectual property, dumping products, illegal subsidies to corporations”, and requiring “tech transfers” from U.S. to Chinese companies.[3]

In other words, Biden intends to pressure China into abandoning the industrial policy that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and allowed the country to escape perpetual subordination in the global economy.[4] He will pose these demands even as he himself has made an explicitly nationalist industrial policy the centerpiece of his own economic agenda.[5] If such an approach to China wins out, it will represent the triumph of corporate nationalism over the wellbeing of the working class in both the United States and China, undermining the prospect of democratic reforms in either country and of resolving the climate crisis.[6]

The Chinese leadership has some room to give ground. For example, now that China has significantly closed the gap with the rich countries in advanced technology and Chinese companies are beginning to produce their own innovations, Chinese policymakers are increasingly interested in I.P. protections.[7] But under the current conditions of the global economy, continued growth depends on breaking into fields like artificial intelligence or avionics that the US, Europe, and Japan still monopolize.

From China’s perspective, Biden’s aim of organizing a coalition of rich countries, most of which are former colonial powers, to preserve their monopoly on advanced production looks less like the defense of a “level playing field” or a “rules-based system” and more like a recrudescence of imperialist aggression to keep China in its place. Since the continued vitality of the Chinese economy is necessary not only to avoid a sudden crash in China’s financial markets but also to maintain social stability and the Communist Party’s legitimacy, Chinese leaders perceive these moves as profoundly threatening.

Those threat perceptions are deepened by security conflicts. Although Biden is likely to tamp down military tensions in the short term, the U.S. and China jostling for hegemony in the South and East China Seas will continue and perhaps intensify. The situation around both North Korea and Taiwan is fragile, and either one could explode into the most dangerous crisis of the post-Cold War world if any of the relevant parties were to seriously challenge the status quo. U.S. leaders will—rightly, if hypocritically—continue to criticize abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, exacerbating Chinese leaders’ longstanding fears about territorial integrity.[8]

Perhaps most ominously, elites in both the U.S. and China increasingly see the other country’s success in non-military realms as a military threat to their own country. In an article written with neoconservative Hal Brands, Jake Sullivan cast China’s efforts to shape “the world’s economic rules, technology standards, and political institutions to its advantage and in its image” as “pursuing global dominance.”[9]

In the end, simply lecturing the leaders of either country to stop being paranoid, to think of the greater good, to set aside conflicts and focus on shared interests, will be futile. The governing elites of the U.S. and China are now trapped in a zero-sum structure of competition. The longer the limited space in the global economy continues to push the two up against each other, the greater the risk that this “competition” will develop into a spiraling cycle of mutual insecurity and a self-sustaining escalation of nationalist hatred.

Progressive possibilities: All is not yet lost. Despite the Biden team’s commitment to corporate nationalism and U.S. hegemony, this administration will also be unusually open to a number of key progressive ideas on foreign policy. If progressive forces are able to push these ideas to realization and able to limit the damage done by nationalism and hegemony, the structural forces driving great power competition could be transformed and a path blazed to a far more egalitarian, inclusive, and democratic world.

Most significant, Biden has named John Kerry to a special position with responsibility for coordinating U.S. climate diplomacy. The move has occasioned much hand-wringing within the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Many members of the so-called blob are concerned that Biden might prioritize an existential threat to humanity over their enthusiasm for great power conflict. Thomas Wright provides an overview of the dire prospects:

According to three people familiar with Kerry’s thinking, Kerry believes that cooperation with China is the key to progress on climate change and that climate is by far the most important issue in the relationship between the United States and China. … everything else, including geopolitical competition with China, is of secondary importance to this overarching threat.[10]

Together with Biden’s environmental team—the strongest on climate ever named—and the surprisingly forthright climate message Biden pursued during the election, there is reason to expect that the Biden administration will be particularly receptive to progressives on climate.[11]

The second key progressive opening is a profound change in economic thinking unfolding among Democrats. Biden and his top officials have rejected the free market as the privileged motor for allocating resources in the economy. Jake Sullivan has even criticized neoliberalism by name, arguing with Jennifer Harris that, for reasons of national security as much as domestic policy, the U.S. should prioritize public investment, pursue industrial policy to fight climate change, and only engage in trade agreements that “involve a laser focus on what improves wages and creates high-paying jobs in the United States, rather than making the world safe for corporate investment.”[12]

Prioritizing climate and labor over the free market and corporate power are essential preconditions for achieving progressive globalization. Yet, even here, the Biden team is torn in two directions. On the one hand, they recognize that the wars and inequalities of the neoliberal globalization era have lost all popular support. According to a report that Sullivan co-authored with a number of former Bush and Obama administration foreign policy veterans:

Globalization has disproportionately benefited the nation’s top earners and multinational companies and aggravated growing economic inequality at home. It has not spurred broad-based increases in real wages among U.S. workers. … There is no evidence America’s middle class will rally behind efforts aimed at restoring U.S. primacy in a unipolar world, escalating a new Cold War with China, or waging a cosmic struggle between the world’s democracies and authoritarian governments.[13]

On the other hand, Biden’s foreign policy officials have no overarching vision of a global system of economic growth and international relations that could replace the long-standing framework of corporate nationalism and U.S. hegemony. This deeply ingrained worldview, along with a desire to pass bipartisan legislation, keep bringing them back to great power conflict as the only way forward.[14]

Thus someone like Sullivan understands that neoliberalism has reached a dead end, but he cannot see that the crisis of the present is one of the entire global system, afflicting China just as much as the U.S. and pushing both in the same direction—away from free market individualism and inequality, and toward reactionary nationalism. The only answer is collaboration among the great powers to remake that system. Instead, the Biden team appears poised to embrace the structural conflict that the broken global system imposes on both countries. For Sullivan, the alternative to neoliberalism is not a better world for everyone but the restoration of U.S. supremacy:

[E]conomics, at least as much as anything else, will determine the United States’ success or failure in geopolitics. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with China … the emerging great-power competition between the United States and China will ultimately turn on how effectively each country stewards its national economy and shapes the global economy.[15]

Progressive internationalist strategy under Biden

Since the U.S.–China conflict is a manifestation of systemic problems in neoliberal capitalism, the long-term solution to the conflict requires structural reforms of the global system. Crucially, this new global system must make the lives of billions of people across the Global South matter much more than they do currently and address inequality between countries—the racist subordination of the Global South to the Global North.

Key areas of global structural reform include:

  • Implementing a global regime of industrial policy that channels large-scale, high-quality, long-term investment globally, especially to the Global South. This would correct the failures of neoliberal capital markets, which have locked Global South countries in decades of “race to the bottom” competition for low levels of low-quality, short-term investment, which has both prevented economic development and held back progress on climate change.
  • Reforms that raise wages and increase the power of labor versus capital globally. These reforms can include a global minimum wage system[16] and a global regime of labor rights that are legally binding and backed by effective enforcement mechanisms.
  • Reforms to the global intellectual property rights regime, which has been an important mechanism for perpetuating the subordination of the Global South and blocks economic development in those countries. These reforms can include weakening intellectual property restrictions, creating exceptions for key technologies in areas such as medicine and clean energy, and (most ambitiously) building entirely new mechanisms to ensure funding for research and development worldwide.[17]

Winning these structural reforms would not only address issues of global injustice, it would also overcome the dysfunctions of the neoliberal status quo. Creating a new model of global growth—progressive globalization—in which higher quality investment and rising wages and economic demand resolve global overcapacity, would relieve the pressures of zero-sum competition that underlie the U.S.–China conflict. Implementing these reforms requires greater global cooperation, including between the U.S. and China, so the process of achieving these reforms would embody the kind of cooperation supported in the new system.

This vision will not be fully achieved under a Biden administration. But we can use the progressive opportunities under Biden to build power for progressive internationalist alternatives and put ourselves on a pathway towards winning global structural reforms over the longer term. Below we outline some progressive internationalist struggles that we believe to be practical over the next four years.

Struggles around COVID-19

The need for COVID-19 relief and reconstruction present opportunities to take some first steps toward progressive globalization. COVID-19 has dramatized the need for structural reforms to the global system and the perils of neglecting the needs of the Global South. First, we are now facing “vaccine apartheid.” Wealthier countries are hoarding vaccine supplies, leaving the much larger populations of the Global South waiting for months or years. To protect the profits of pharmaceutical companies, these same countries have blocked Global South demands to waive intellectual property rights over COVID-19 vaccines, preventing Global South producers from manufacturing vaccines for themselves.[18] Second, many Global South countries are suffering economic crises, a product of the combined effects of the pandemic, the low quality of neoliberal economic development, and the failure of wealthier countries to support necessary relief. These problems undermine efforts to end the crisis in the Global North as well. Solutions require a shift in policy from the U.S. and other Global North countries and increased cooperation with China.

A Chinese health care volunteer directs a worker after he registered to receive a COVID-19 vaccine jab at a mass vaccination center for Chaoyang District on January 15, 2021 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A number of mechanisms to prevent vaccine apartheid have been proposed. Perhaps the most interesting is the demand led by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend patent laws for COVID-19 medications.[19] If won, this measure could be used by progressives as a precedent for further reforms to the global intellectual property rights regime. Last year Biden made a verbal commitment to activist Ady Barkan that he would ensure intellectual property does not prevent other countries from accessing COVID-19 vaccines.[20]

Struggles around trade policy

As discussed above, the Biden administration has voiced commitments to progressive shifts in trade policy, supporting improved international standards around labor rights and the environment. We should support these commitments and push them in a more radical direction. But without new forms of investment in the Global South, global inequality may solidify between mostly wealthier countries committed to high labor and environmental standards and mostly lower income countries that have opted out of those commitments. It would be easy for these two blocs to correspond to a U.S.-led economic bloc and a Chinese-led economic bloc, which would feed U.S. versus China polarization in the global economy and perhaps create a new age of devastating proxy wars.

At the same time, as discussed above, we must oppose the key U.S. demands in the U.S.–China trade war around industrial policy and intellectual property, and oppose attempts to expand the trade war by organizing U.S. allies into a broader anti-China front.

Struggles around climate change

Progressive globalization is essential to solving the long-term global challenge of climate change. The necessary structural reforms and shifts in trade policy discussed above would ideally be implemented as part of a Global Green New Deal that applies the idea of low-carbon industrial policy and job creation to the entire global economy. A global regime of green investment and industrial policy, freed from the constraints of neoliberal capital markets and supported by rising wages, would give countries in the Global South the ability to develop their economies in a sustainable way, breaking the dilemma between economic development and environmental sustainability in the Global South.

We should demand that the U.S. work together with China and other countries to make this possible. U.S.–China cooperation is crucial as the countries each have their own strengths that must be combined and coordinated if we are to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible.[21] China is, by far, the world leader in industrial capacity across a variety of clean technology industries, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been the largest source of investment and financing for infrastructure across the Global South. The U.S., meanwhile, leads in research and development in clean technologies and has superior access to finance capital and international alliances. There are important progressive critiques of these features of both countries, but realistically they form key building blocks of a Global Green New Deal.

A Global Green New Deal must also address intellectual property rights over clean energy technology, which make it unnecessarily expensive for Global South countries to decarbonize and make it harder for them to develop their own domestic clean energy industries. Demands for a weakening of the intellectual property rights regime have been made in previous climate negotiations, only to be blocked by the U.S. and other Global North countries.[22] We should formulate demands around this issue, while realizing these will be harder to win because they risk alienating “green” capitalists whose support the Biden administration needs for progress on climate policy. Even so, this argument will be important for making the case that protecting the intellectual property rights regime, which is another key source of U.S.–China tensions, should cease to be a priority for the U.S. government.

Domestically, we must also support Biden’s goals of green industrial policy and job creation while demanding the most ambitious possible version of these programs. Success on this domestic front would strengthen a progressive approach to the U.S.–China relationship. First, progress on a green jobs program would make it easier to counter the false economic nationalist narrative that attacking Chinese business and Chinese workers is the key to American job creation. Second, progress towards industrial policy in the U.S. would make it easier to counter an important source of tension between the U.S. and China, the argument that China’s use of industrial policy is “unfair” and must end. Instead we can argue for the need to extend green industrial policy across borders into a new global system.

Struggles against militarism

The tense U.S.–China security relationship is treacherous ground for progressive politics. On flashpoints like Taiwan and the South China Sea, an increasingly assertive and nationalist Chinese government poses a serious threat to democracy and peace in the region. In the short term, U.S. hegemony over the Asia-Pacific restrains Chinese military initiatives and stabilizes the security environment. That is particularly significant for progressive internationalist strategy on the status of Taiwan: as a country “in between” the U.S. and China, with significant ties to both and cultural and linguistic affinity with China, Taiwan has the potential to function as a key site for building transnational solidarity.

Yet as U.S.–China relations deteriorate, U.S. military control in the Asia-Pacific also aggravates Chinese insecurity and provokes nationalist outrage. The likely outcome will be a regional arms race and increased instability throughout Asia. Choosing one side or the other is hopeless—progressives must act to transform the structure of confrontation so that new possibilities emerge.

Unlike the issues of investment, labor or climate, there are no immediate progressive demands that would improve the situation. In the short term, progressives should aim to halt the rush toward military solutions by opposing the growing pressure for massive new anti-China weapons spending. It will be helpful to connect this to the struggle for a Global Green New Deal: as it stands, the military-industrial complex is the established form of industrial policy and government-led job creation, with powerful bipartisan support. We face a choice between military industrial policy that threatens death and green industrial policy that sustains life.

Yet anti-military campaigning will fail unless the underlying source of conflict is resolved. Progressives should begin by developing alternatives in concert with progressives from Taiwan, China’s neighbors in the South China Sea, and other countries threatened by the rise of the Chinese military. U.S. progressives who are members of the diasporas from these countries can also play an important role here. Ultimately, however, reducing the risk of international aggression and war in Asia depends on ending the zero-sum logic of the current global system.

Anti-racist struggles

The Biden administration and the Democratic Party as a whole are sensitive to the risk that great power competition with China can intensify anti-Chinese racism and feed a form of neo-McCarthyism in which people of Chinese descent fall under suspicion of disloyalty to the U.S. Liberals often respond by decrying racism and insisting that greater conflict with China should not be xenophobic but, as demonstrated by every prior case of foreign conflict in U.S. history, this is a fantasy. Escalating conflict with China will inevitably feed escalating racism within the U.S. This contradiction opens up an opportunity to connect the dots between racism and anti-China politics and use antiracist politics against great power competition.

Struggles around rights in China

Progressives must also take on rights abuses within China, including the crackdown on democracy and civil society in Hong Kong and the practices of mass detention, coercive assimilation, and forced labor of Uyghurs and other minorities. Many progressives have been hesitant to address these issues out of valid concerns about anti-China hawks’ cynical instrumentalization of human rights criticisms. But avoiding these issues is not only a violation of progressive principles, it is also unstrategic: it leaves us open to attack from the right, it can be a source of confusion for the progressive base, and it risks alienating important allies.

Key elements of a progressive approach to this issue include:

  • Promoting critiques that place abuses by the Chinese government in the context of more general developments in the global system. Growing nationalism and authoritarianism are trends not only in China but worldwide, including in the U.S. Islamophobia is the source of some of the most repressive policies not only in China but also in India, Myanmar, the E.U., and many other countries, and has been fed by the U.S.-led War on Terror.[23]
  • Proposing responses in the context of systemic solutions. For example, the demand for a ban on Uyghur forced labor should be placed in the context of campaigns for improved labor standards that target violations throughout global supply chains rather than singling out China.
  • Highlighting other forms of repression, such as crackdowns on labor activists, feminists, progressive lawyers, and others in mainland China. These forms of repression draw less attention in the U.S. and reveal the existence of mainland Chinese progressive forces and the potential to build solidarity with them.
  • Arguing that great power competition is counterproductive. Increased U.S.–China tensions will not improve the status of those facing repression at the hands of the Chinese government, but will only make them more vulnerable over the long run by feeding Chinese nationalism and by reducing the willingness of the Chinese government to respond to Western concerns over rights issues.


A progressive internationalist alternative to the escalating U.S.–China conflict requires a transformation of the global system as a whole. To succeed, progressive forces in the U.S. must continue on a path toward taking political power, but we must also significantly strengthen our thinking on foreign affairs. The internationalist dimension of progressive politics remains worryingly weak and has not yet produced a coherent approach to a wide range of difficult questions concerning China that are unfamiliar even to most internationalists in the U.S.

This will be a long-term struggle, and even with the best possible organizing only limited progress will be possible under the Biden administration. But the contradictions within the administration show that, alongside the dangerous forces of nationalism and great power conflict, new progressive possibilities have also emerged from the crisis of the neoliberal system—possibilities unimaginable even five years ago. If we can seize upon these possibilities, we can win a fundamentally new global system capable of resolving the world’s most urgent threats by confronting the exclusion and inequality of the present.

Tobita Chow is the director of Justice Is Global, a special project of People’s Action to create a more just and sustainable global economy and defeat right-wing nationalism.

Jake Werner is a Post-Doctoral Global China Research Fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center (GDP Center).

[1] Ching Kwan Lee, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).

[2] Ho-fung Hung, “The US–China Rivalry Is About Capitalist Competition,” Jacobin (2020.07.11), https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/07/us-china-competition-capitalism-rivalry; Martin Wolf, “China’s debt threat: time to rein in the lending boom,” Financial Times (2018.07.24), https://www.ft.com/content/0c7ecae2-8cfb-11e8-bb8f-a6a2f7bca546

[3] Thomas L. Friedman, “Biden Made Sure ‘Trump Is Not Going to Be President for Four More Years’,” New York Times (2020.12.02), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/opinion/biden-interview-mcconnell-china-iran.html.

[4] Jake Werner, “China Is Cheating at a Rigged Game,” Foreign Policy online (2018.08.08), https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/08/china-is-cheating-at-a-rigged-game.

[5] “The Biden Plan to Ensure the Future Is ‘Made in All of America’ by All of America’s Workers,” https://joebiden.com/made-in-america.

[6] We analyzed and critiqued in greater depth the corporate nationalist agenda in “The US–China Trade War: A Progressive Internationalist Alternative,” Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office (January 2020), https://rosalux.nyc/us-china-trade-war/

[7] Yukon Huang and Jeremy Smith, “China’s Record on Intellectual Property Rights Is Getting Better and Better,” Foreign Policy online (2019.10.16), https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/16/china-intellectual-property-theft-progress.

[8] For an analysis of how the disintegration of neoliberal globalization has driven growing repression in China, see Jake Werner, “A Global Path through the Hong Kong Dilemma: Towards a New Internationalism,” Made in China, Vol. 4, No. 2 (April–June 2019), pp. 27–34, https://madeinchinajournal.com/2019/07/15/a-global-path-through-the-hong-kong-dilemma-towards-a-new-internationalism.

[9] Hal Brands and Jake Sullivan, “China Has Two Paths to Global Domination,” Foreign Policy online (2020.05.22), https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/22/china-superpower-two-paths-global-domination-cold-war.

[10] Thomas Wright, “The Risk of John Kerry Following His Own China Policy,” The Atlantic online (2020.12.22), https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/12/risk-john-kerry-following-his-own-china-policy/617459.

[11] Gregory Krieg, “The Sunrise Movement is an early winner in the Biden transition. Now comes the hard part,” CNN (2021.01.02), https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/02/politics/biden-administration-sunrise-movement-climate.

[12] Jennifer Harris and Jake Sullivan, “America Needs a New Economic Philosophy. Foreign Policy Experts Can Help,” Foreign Policy online (2020.02.07), https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/07/america-needs-a-new-economic-philosophy-foreign-policy-experts-can-help.

[13] Salman Ahmed and Rozlyn Engel (eds.), Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2020), pp. 2–3, https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/09/23/making-u.s.-foreign-policy-work-better-for-middle-class-pub-82728.

[14] Pressure on the Biden administration to use anti-China politics as a way to build bipartisan consensus “will tend to pull the Biden administration ever rightward.” Tobita Chow, “Post-Election Reflections on Sinophobia in U.S. Politics,” Organizing Upgrade (2020.12.14), https://organizingupgrade.com/post-election-reflections-on-sinophobia-in-u-s-politics.

[15] Harris and Sullivan, “America Needs a New Economic Philosophy. Foreign Policy Experts Can Help.”

[16] Michael Galant, “The Time Has Come for a Global Minimum Wage,” Inequality.org (2019.06.17), https://inequality.org/research/ilo-global-minimum-wage.

[17] For more on this, see Dean Baker, Arjun Jayadev, and Joseph Stiglitz, Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Development: A Better Set of Approaches for the 21st Century, AccessIBSA, 2017, https://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/baker-jayadev-stiglitz-innovation-ip-development-2017-07.pdf. Hopes for progress on this front under a Biden administration may have to be more modest. Unlike the previous two issue areas, there is no pre-existing support for significant reforms around intellectual property rights within the Biden administration or elsewhere in the establishment. This is no accident: intellectual property rights, and the rentier profits that they make possible, are crucial to the current model of U.S. economic growth and the place of the U.S. atop the global economic hierarchy under neoliberalism.

[18] To take one egregious example, India is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and is producing large quantities of vaccines for transnational pharmaceutical companies, and yet “its population is unlikely to be fully vaccinated before 2024.” Peter S. Goodman, “One Vaccine Side Effect: Global Economic Inequality,” New York Times (2020.12.25), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/25/business/coronavirus-vaccines-global-economy.html.

[19] Hadas Thier, “Activists Demand Rich Countries Suspend Patent Laws and Share Vaccines Freely,” In These Times (2020.12.09), https://inthesetimes.com/article/covid-public-health-global-justice-vaccine-distribution.

[20] “Biden’s Commitment to Global Sharing of COVID-19 Vaccine Technology is a Step in the Right Direction, Must be Followed by Concrete Plans to Dismantle Dangerous Healthcare Nationalism,” Health GAP, July 9, 2020, https://healthgap.org/press/bidens-commitment-to-global-sharing-of-covid-19-vaccine-technology-is-a-step-in-the-right-direction-must-be-followed-by-concrete-plans-to-dismantle-dangerous-healthcare-nationalism.

[21] John Helveston and Jonas Nahm, “China’s key role in scaling low-carbon energy technologies,” Science, No. 6467 (2019.11.15), pp. 794–796, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6467/794.

[22] Baker, Jayadev, and Stiglitz, Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Development.

[23] David Brophy, “Good and Bad Muslims in Xinjiang,” Made in China, Vol. 4, No. 2 (April–June 2019), pp. 44–53, https://madeinchinajournal.com/2019/07/09/good-and-bad-muslims-in-xinjiang.