Although not as intense as 2020, 2021 is still a bustling year for U.S.–China relations.
On the U.S. side, the Biden administration’s China policy is a mix of tough and soft measures.
It has blacklisted dozens of major Chinese companies, including telecom giants, over national security risks. It sanctioned dozens of Chinese and Hong Kong officials over their role in suppressing Hong Kong’s freedoms and persecuting Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
It also banned imports of solar panel materials from Xinjiang, expanded a Trump-era ban on American investment into certain Chinese firms, and signed bills by Congress to counter the Chinese regime.
But the administration also dropped Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat, reportedly approved licenses for Huawei to buy auto chips, and allowed Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou to return to China.
What’s more, under Biden, the United States issued a joint declaration with the Chinese regime on climate change, eased visa restrictions on Chinese state media reporters, and returned seven Chinese nationals in an apparent prisoner swap. The Biden administration also announced that the United States will not seek to change China’s political system but instead seek co-existence.
On the Chinese side, the regime has tested hypersonic weapons, among other military aggressions. They lobbied U.S. businesses to prevent China-related bills from getting passed in Congress. They sanctioned senior Trump administration officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as other U.S. citizens and organizations.
They passed laws to counter U.S. and EU sanctions, allowed several U.S. citizens they held for years to return to America, and held talks with U.S. officials. The regime also welcomed Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to China, and promised they will allow more American reporters into the country.
One more thing on what looked like a prisoner swap between the United States and China—some experts have criticized the move, saying that the United States may set a risky precedent. They point to the Chinese regime’s history of arbitrarily detaining foreign citizens and sometimes using them as political leverage.