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Obama, Trump, and Biden on China’s Foreign Policy


Published April 14, 2021

The Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have each contributed a unique approach to US foreign policy toward China. The Obama administration saw a shift from “engage but hedge” to “hedge but engage,” while the Trump administration refocused its approach to “compete, counter, and contain.” The Biden administration has taken influence from both of these strategies but has placed focus on strengthening American foundations through improved infrastructure and bolstered relationships with international allies.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How have shifts in China triggered changes in US foreign policy?
  2. When it comes to China, how do the foreign policy strategies of Obama, Trump, and Biden compare? What are their weaknesses? What are their strengths?

Additional resources:

  • Watch “Elizabeth Economy Details Shifts in Chinese Domestic and Foreign Policy” on PolicyEd. Available here.
  • Watch “America’s New Great-Power Competition with China,” with Elizabeth Economy. Available here.
  • Watch “The China Model: Not One to Emulate” on PolicyEd. Available here.