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Mon, 09 Nov


Wellington Club

The US Election & US-China Relations: At a Crossroads?

The 2020 US election will have a major impact on US-China relations. What can we expect after November? What implications for New Zealand?

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The US Election & US-China Relations: At a Crossroads?
The US Election & US-China Relations: At a Crossroads?

Time & Location

09 Nov 2020, 5:30 pm – 6:45 pm

Wellington Club, Wellington Club Building Level 4/88 The Terrace, Wellington Central, Wellington 6011, New Zealand

About the Event

The two great powers’ relations could not be more important for the rest of the world.

This Diplosphere panel will explore:

  • What we can expect for US-China relations depending on the outcome of the US presidential election,
  • And what this implies for New Zealand and our Asia Pacific region in terms of diplomacy, security and trade.

Chair: Maty Nikkhou-O'Brien, Founding Director, Diplosphere


  • Her Excellency Ms Wu Xi, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China (TBC)
  • Hon Tim Groser, former NZ Ambassador to the US, Minister of Trade, Minister of Climate Change and Deputy Foreign Minister (John Key’s Govt 2008-15)
  • Dr Alan Bollard, Chair for Pacific Region Business at Victoria University, former Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Secretary of Treasury
  • Anna Fifield, former Beijing Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, Bureau Chief in Tokyo
  • Dr Xiaoming Huang, Professor of International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington

Article published by Newsroom


  • Sustaining and advancing stable relations is in everyone’s interests. Cooperation, dialogue and consensus-building is the way forward for US-China relations.
  • The increasing tension between the two great powers desperately needs stabilization. But this will require the Biden administration to meet China halfway, abandoning its recent ‘Cold War’ mentality and zero-sum approach.
  • The growing wariness of China within the US is not simply a ‘Trumpian’ phenomena, but a truly enduring bi-partisan view within the government that is likely here to stay.
  • Biden’s China policy is likely to be more restrained and coherent than the Trump administrations. But expect no major policy innovations, a change in style, not substance.
  • Expect a return to multilateralism and a deepening of engagement with key partners. Strengthening their network of alliances will enable them to better project a ‘united front’.
  • Biden’s foreign policy is likely to be more ‘principled.’ Likely putting more pressure on China over its human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. An issue that will prove a bone of contention between the two states, as China will view that as a breach of its sovereignty and core interests.
  • There is hope for cooperation on shared issues such as; climate change, COVID-19, cybersecurity and proliferation. Furthermore, decoupling is all but impossible and will likely cease.
  • The primary barrier to Biden’s presidency is the volatile partisan divide. A Republican majority Senate and Supreme Court may result in a deadlock restraining Biden’s options/effectiveness.
  • China is changing rapidly and the approach Xi Jinping himself takes towards the US will be a key factor to watch in the coming years.

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