This article was originally posted on March 22, 2021 and last updated on June 11, 2021.
On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, offering a chance to change the course of US-China relations, which had hit a low point under the outgoing Trump administration.
The four years witnessed escalating trade tensions culminating in a trade war as well as sanctions on Chinese technology companies.
Since Biden’s election, political and business stakeholders have been paying close attention to the direction of the new White House administration’s policy towards China.
Will the Biden administration be accommodating of China or take advantage of the new status quo established under his predecessor?
China Briefing previously monitored and documented major developments during the US-China trade war in the Trump-era.
Here, we present a fresh timeline that will track key developments affecting bilateral ties between the world’s two largest economies under the Biden administration.
US-China relations in the Biden-era
Day 141: June 10 – China passes a new law to counter US and EU sanctions
China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), approved the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law. The new law offers legal foundation for China to counter US and EU sanctions over trade, technology, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang.
According to the law, individuals or entities involved in making or implementing discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities could be put on an anti-sanctions list. Those on the list may be denied entry into China or be expelled from the country. Their assets within China may be seized, detained, or frozen. They could be prohibited or restricted from doing business or other activities there. Chinese authorities also have the power to take countermeasures against other individuals or organizations with specific ties to blacklisted individuals or entities.
Day 141: June 10 – China and US hold a third talk on trade and investment in two weeks
China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao spoke with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo over the phone. The call followed two similar discussions between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
A statement from China’s Commerce Ministry said that both sides “had a candid and pragmatic exchange of views on relevant issues and mutual concerns in the China-US business field.”
Day 140: June 9 – Biden drops Trump attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat, but the scrutiny will continue
US President Joe Biden withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of China-owned apps WeChat and TikTok. To replace the Trump-era ban, Biden signed new orders calling for the Commerce Department to launch national security reviews of apps with links to foreign adversaries, including China.
Day 139: June 8, 2021 – US Senate passes the Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 to compete with China
The US Senate voted 68-32 to approve a sweeping piece of legislation, named the US Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, intended to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology.
The bill would invest more than US$250 billion into American semiconductor manufacturing, boosting the National Science Foundation, creating regional technology hubs, and spurring 5G innovation.
The Senate’s action highlights a rare bipartisan consensus in Congress on the US strategy for responding to China’s rise.
Day 134: June 3, 2021 – Biden expands Trump-era ban on American investment into Chinese firms
US President Joe Biden issued a new executive order barring American investment into Chinese firms with purported ties to defense or surveillance technology sectors.
The new order expands on an earlier Trump-era blacklist and hits 59 Chinese firms, including the communications giant Huawei. Many of the newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and businesses named on the earlier blacklist.
American investors will be banned from buying or selling publicly traded securities in targeted companies, beginning August 2, 2021, when the new order takes effect.
Day 132: June 1, 2021 – Chinese and US economic chiefs Liu He and Janet Yellen hold virtual talks
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a video meeting over economic ties, the second between senior officials from both sides in the past week. The readouts of the meeting were similar to that of the last one between Liu He and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported the two sides exchanged views on the macroeconomic situation and on the cooperation between the US and China. According to Xinhua, “the two sides believed that the China-U.S. economic relations are very important”.
The US Trade Representative Office (USTR) released its own statement as well: “Treasury Secretary Yellen discussed the Biden Administration’s plans to support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of cooperating on areas that are in US interests, while at the same time frankly tackling issues of concern.”