US should encourage China’s rise, says Biden’s national security team Jake Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced further nominations for his cabinet, including a national security adviser who had called for support for China’s “rise” in the past.

Jake Sullivan was exploited to fill the role after previously advising Biden when he was vice president of the Obama administration. Sullivan also worked for Hillary Clinton when he served as Secretary of State.

Sullivan could create a new perspective in his relations with China compared to the Trump administration, if his previous remarks suggest so.

Speaking on behalf of the Lowy Institute in 2017, Sullivan said Owen Harries, a leading foreign policy expert, was “right” to warn of “inclusion” as self-harm as a policy of self-destruction.

“We need to give a middle ground – which will encourage China’s rise in line with an open, fair, rules-based, regional order,” Sullivan said. “This will require care and caution and strategic foresight, and perhaps still requires fundamentally sustained attention. It may not have escaped your attention that these are not enough in Washington at the moment.

In the same presentation, Sullivan said that China’s policy should not just be about bilateral relations, “about our relations with the region, which will create an environment conducive to China’s peaceful and positive rise,” he said.


Sullivan believed that a prosperous China, specifically from an economic point of view, was good for the global economy, although it depended on the system in which China was rising.

This mood is in line with the current policy towards China, where the US was based on an agreement to level the playing field for domestic companies, for example in the protection of intellectual property and the removal of trade barriers.

The Trump government directly linked China to a months-long trade war as it tried to win over Beijing by opening up its economy.

Earlier this year, a partial agreement was reached between the world’s two largest economies.

While Biden’s approach may differ from Trump’s hard-line tactics, his goals are likely to be similar in relation to Beijing’s economic ties.

Biden said the U.S. must “really harden against China” in its Foreign Affairs essay, where it called for alliances to be used as leverage to “shape the rules” so that they “reflect democratic interests and values”.