By: Barry Pavel and Jeffrey Cimmino
What is the kernel of the issue?
The United States and its democratic allies have been moving too slowly in getting organized around geopolitical competition with China across many domains. China is racking up free trade agreements and other “wins” in rapid succession. For example, in December, the EU announced agreement on a comprehensive investment deal with China. In November, China joined over a dozen Indo-Pacific nations in establishing the largest trading bloc in history, without the US.
Why is the issue important?
China is moving quickly to establish itself as a global leader in technology, in trade, in infrastructure development, and in other areas while reshaping international institutions and establishing new multilateral fora. Based on current trends, the democratic world will continue to lose ground as China asserts its dominance in commercializing technology, fostering multilateral trade agreements, and boosting its clout in the Indo-Pacific and globally.
What is the recommendation?
The Biden Administration should not underestimate the importance of speed in competing with China. The administration should expedite its strategy and policy reviews, while also identifying opportunities for advancing commercial partnerships and supporting tech infrastructure in the developing world (and among allied nations). Pursuing trade agreements with transatlantic partners in the United Kingdom and European Union would be a good start. The Biden administration also should work quickly with US partners to discern ways to help private firms compete with Huawei in developing 5G infrastructure.