OPTIMISTS LONG hoped that welcoming China into the global economy would make it a “responsible stakeholder”, and bring about political reform. As president, Donald Trump blasted that as weak. Now Joe Biden is converting Trumpian bombast into a doctrine that pits America against China, a struggle between rival political systems which, he says, can have only one winner. Between them, Mr Trump and Mr Biden have engineered the most dramatic break in American foreign policy in the five decades since Richard Nixon went to China.

Mr Biden and his team base their doctrine on the belief that China is “less interested in coexistence and more interested in dominance”. The task of American policy is to blunt Chinese ambitions. America will work with China in areas of common interest, like climate change, but counter its ambitions elsewhere. That means building up the strength at home and working abroad with allies that can…

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