January 21, 2021
On January 21, David Firestein, president and CEO of the Bush China Foundation, was a featured speaker of the Asia Society Texas Center and their latest program: “U.S.–China Relations Under Presidents Biden and Xi: What to Expect.”
Charles Foster, former chairman of the Asia Society Texas Center, presided over the event as moderator. Foster is the chairman of Foster LLP and vice chair of the Bush China Foundation.
Firestein opened the discussion by reviewing the damage inflicted by the trade conflict between the United States and China over the past four years, highlighting that the U.S. trade deficit with China has increased and the tariffs imposed on China have resulted in higher costs for American consumers. Looking forward, he sees President Biden taking a different approach and adopting a more sensible and modern trade posture towards China, which should prove more beneficial as the world’s two largest economies must continually engage with one another.
Firestein further explained that the Biden Administration will view China as a competitor, rather than a threat, a point confirmed recently by President Biden and his Cabinet of highly experienced policymakers, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Accepting China as America’s greatest competitor in modern times may prove pivotal in helping propel the U.S. to enhance its capabilities and growth prospects. Firestein also added that a future economic relationship between these two countries must be based on greater reciprocity with regards to trade, intellectual property and the adoption of technology.
He went on to comment that he hopes to see both sides re-establish dialogues prevalent under Presidents Obama and Bush to ensure that platforms are in place to address key issues, along with a significant change in both national and presidential rhetoric, which he foresees as being a positive change under the Biden Administration.
Questions concerning China’s global leadership aspirations, Hong Kong and the national security law and recent engagement with Taiwan were also addressed.