Special Forum

Competing with China is the foremost external policy challenge for the incoming US Administration of President-elect Joe Biden. More precisely, the problem is how to manage China’s power and assertiveness in a state of competitive coexistence—in other words, how to prevent Chinese dominance without conflict. This is a global struggle, which includes domestic dimensions of American resilience, renewal and resistance to foreign interference. But one geographic space is especially important: the Indo-Pacific. America cannot effectively compete with China if it allows Beijing hegemony over this vast region, the economic and strategic centre of gravity in a connected world. The cascading shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are rendering this task both harder and easier: boosting China’s relative strength and confidence, at least for now, while making many nations more alert to China’s strategic ambitions and coercive methods, and thus motivated to resist. The challenge and opportunity for the Biden Administration is to translate its promises about working with allies and partners into a multi-layered strategy for the Indo-Pacific.

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