And the president shows no signs of backing off a confrontational approach in other areas. On Nov. 20, his administration is expected to begin economic talks with Taiwan that are likely to rankle Beijing. His advisers are considering other measures to punish China in the coming weeks, including sanctions related to China’s security crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has carried out mass detentions and harsh policing of ethnic minorities.
“We are worried that he’s going to do some rash things that aren’t going to make sense for the future of the country or global stability,” said Rufus Yerxa, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents major multinational companies. “Given the history of President Trump’s use of executive authority, we’re taking nothing for granted in these next few months.”
Still, “most of what he could do is through executive orders and executive actions, which can be reversed by a Biden administration,” Mr. Yerxa added.
Whether Mr. Biden opts to roll back Mr. Trump’s more punitive measures will depend, at least in part, on China’s future behavior, including whether it pursues more aggressive incursions into the South China Sea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, people close to his campaign say.
Beijing has recently endorsed a policy of greater technological self-reliance and a stronger military to protect itself from a more antagonistic United States, and moved ahead with cementing other economic partnerships. On Sunday, China signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a pan-Asian trade pact that includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries, and will help cement China’s image as the dominant economic power in the region.
Mr. Biden’s appointments for trade and foreign policy posts could help determine his approach toward China, though it remains unclear whom he might nominate for such critical jobs as secretary of state and commerce and the United States trade representative.