US hawkish economic approach on China to intensify

In a shift from tit-for-tat tariffs and strong-arm tactics to tech restrictions and investment curbs, U.S. policy towards China has become more targeted under President Joe Biden -- though still hardline.

Despite differences between Democrats and Republicans, analysts expect Washington's approach to Beijing will only become tougher, whether Biden or former president Donald Trump wins another White House term.

"I think the direction of pressure in Washington is absolutely in one direction, which is more hawkishness," said Joshua Meltzer, senior fellow at Brookings Institution.

Already, Biden has largely maintained Trump-era tariffs, rolled out export control restrictions to curtail Beijing's ability to buy and make certain high-end chips, and unveiled an order to curb outbound investments to China.

Officials are also seeking to boost self-reliance in key areas including clean energy supply chains, while further action on data flows is expected.

Meltzer told AFP: "There is currently congressional pressure to do more."

With citizen concerns over trade, business and manufacturing cutting across party lines, the preferred degree of toughness on China tends to be a policy rather than partisan divide, said Jamieson Greer, partner at law firm King & Spalding.

Greer, formerly U.S. Trade Representative chief of staff during the Trump administration, believes there are two camps in Washington.

One views China as an existential threat to the economy, national security or both, therefore justifying strong and broad protection measures.

The other is cautious about overestimating the China threat, and concerned with imposing tough trade and economic measures.

But both groups assume risks associated with China ...

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