The Trump administration turned up the geopolitical tension between the U.S. and China and confrontation between the world's two superpowers is continuing with President Joe Biden.
Echoing Biden's statement earlier this year that China is "our most serious competitor," Rep. Tom Malinowski (D., N.J.) told Yahoo Finance that the U.S.-China clash is one of epic proportions. “We are in a contest with the Chinese government, with the Chinese Communist Party, about the most fundamental questions facing the world,” said Malinowski, who served on President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council and in President Barack Obama’s State Department.
The struggle, he said, is over everything from human rights to trade to the response to climate change.
“The tariffs are one tool in that fight,” said Malinowski, who has maintained a voice in foreign policy through his seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and friendship with the current Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
Trump imposed an array of tariffs on Chinese-made goods during his time in office. The duties have remained in place through the first months of the new administration.
Malinowski said the larger issues at stake "matter to every single person in the world."
“As for tariffs, I don't think unilateral tariffs on China work. I think the important thing there is that we act in concert with our allies," Malinowski said.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are also making moves to confront China and stay ahead of its growing economic power with intensifying bipartisan efforts. Democrats and Republicans have pushed a range of measures, including boosting U.S. cooperation with allies and putting more pressure on Beijing on human rights abuses.
In a speech in February, Biden said, “We will confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive course of action to push back China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance... But we’re ready to work with Beijing, when it’s in America’s interest to do so.”
One of Malinowski's efforts involves a bill to protect citizens of Hong Kong facing persecution by the Chinese government.
He said the Biden administration is on the right track by de-escalating trade tensions with allies like Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and Australia. He also said the U.S. can help compete with China by getting its house in order on the response to the coronavirus pandemic and infrastructure.
“The thing that frightens the Chinese government the most is when the United States works together with others,” said Malinowski. “The last administration basically did their work for them.”
Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.