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Opportunity for US president Biden to 'build back better' rapport | Updated: 2021-01-29 10:36
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The Biden administration has to take the opportunity to work with China and "build back better" the world's most important bilateral relationship, according to an expert on relations between the two countries.

David Firestein, president and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations, acknowledged that the relationship has suffered over the last four years.

The relationship has always been complex and challenging, and never perfect, but it has always been "immensely important", he told the Vision China forum.

He said that after four years of the Trump administration he is optimistic about a more constructive future under the leadership of new US President Joe Biden.

"There will be continuity and change as we get into the Biden administration, which will likely depart from the Trump administration's policy and practice in a number of significant ways," he predicted.

Firestein said while some in the Trump administration viewed and framed China as the enemy of the United States, Biden's team primarily sees China as a serious competitor. This is a major philosophical departure from the Trump administration's China policy, he said.

"I think that distinction is very meaningful. Enemies are countries we fight wars with, but competitors are countries we compete with," he said.

Firestein said China is an indispensable partner of the United States and will remain its most formidable competitor for this generation. "Only by recognizing the essential truth of both statements can we get this vitally important relationship, indeed the world's single most important and consequential bilateral relationship, right for ourselves and posterity, and that's very much what I hope to see in the year 2021," he said.

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