Two-sidedness of Biden administration's one-China policy

China Military Online
Li Wei
2021-02-09 18:47:01

By Xiong Xing

The one-China policy has always been the political foundation for developing China-US relations. Still, the Biden administration hasn't yet made an official statement about its attitude toward this policy since it took office.

Until February 3, local time, when asked if the Biden administration supports the one-China policy at a regular briefing, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said "Yes...our policy has not changed…"

Both Beijing and Washington are on the "wait-and-see" mode regarding bilateral ties. Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, expounded on China's position in a recent statement. He underscored China's concern over the Taiwan question, which involves China's core interests, and called for both China and the United States to restore the relationship to a constructive and predictable track of development.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration has kept toeing the red line since taking office, and the cross-Strait situation seems to be heating up again, with the US Navy's aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt sailing into the South China Sea via Bashi Channel.

The recent moves by the US indicate an apparent two-sidedness. On the one hand, it seems to be releasing goodwill signals to rebuild mutual trust with China and continue to work together in areas of common interests such as climate change. On the other hand, it has resumed the "strategic ambiguity" approach toward Taiwan to have it both ways and curb China's development by playing the so-called "Taiwan card".

During Trump's term, America's China strategy and policy changed drastically, which led to confrontation and conflicts in diplomatic, economic and trade, sci-tech, and many other fields, and intensified frictions and contradictions became the normal state of bilateral relation. In particular, the Trump administration signed several acts related to Taiwan, kept promoting arms sales to Taiwan, and even dispatched government officials to visit Taiwan, seriously trespassing the red line of China-US ties.

An overview of the views and statements on foreign policy by Biden himself and the key members of his team such as Blinken, Sullivan, and Campbell shows that the new administration's main objective on the diplomatic front is to repair the damages done by unilateralism, protectionism and isolationism forced by the Trump administration. Upholding pragmatism, the new administration will attach importance to multilateralism, work with allies, return to the international stage and rebuild America’s "global leadership".

As to its China policy, the future China-US relationship won't be as bumpy as that during Trump's term, but the US won't slacken its containment of China either, giving rise to a situation where contact and containment, competition and cooperation will coexist in parallel. In his first foreign policy speech delivered on February 4, Biden said China is America's "most serious competitor" and his country "are ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America's interest to do so".

It is foreseeable that the Biden administration will resume the “strategic ambiguity” approach to the relation across the Taiwan Strait. As far as national interests are concerned, pursuing maximal national interests is the core of America’s China policy, and its long-term goal is to keep the states of "no unification, no independence and no use of force" in Taiwan question. That way it can get to stay unscathed between the two sides and keep China at bay to the greatest extent possible.

(The author Xiong Xing is a senior researcher at the Center for Taiwan & East Asian Studies, Central China Normal University.)

Editor's note: This article is originally published on, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of


Related News