The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates on China: Policy Profiles

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

No one thought Donald Trump could win the Presidency in 2016. One of Trump’s favorite talking points during the race was that if elected, he would give China hell through imposing hefty tariffs on Chinese imports. He won the election and kept his campaign promise. The subsequent trade conflict has brought the US-China relationship to its lowest point since January 1, 1979, when Washington and Beijing normalized their bilateral relationship.

The 2020 presidential race is already under way. Like the 2016 race for the Republican Party nomination, the Democratic Party primary has a plethora of candidates. At this point, it is unclear who will emerge as the Party’s candidate. There are many issues that will define the race and decide who will be the final candidate. These issues include healthcare, immigration, gun control, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the American relationship with China.

The candidates agree on several points regarding the US relationship with China. For example, they all agree that President Trump has mishandled the trade dispute, that the US needs to pressure China more on human rights, and that President Trump has not used the power of the US’ alliances to exert unified pressure on China. Despite their agreement on these issues, each candidate would approach China differently if elected.

To provide our readers with a full understanding of the Democratic candidates’ proposed China policies, is compiling a profile for each major candidate. We will follow these standards when working on the profile:

First, we will not produce profiles for each of the more than 20 candidates. At this point, we will only profile the proposed China policies of the 10 candidates who spoke at the third debate. If other candidates break out, we will profile their policies accordingly.

Second, we will source information for each candidate from their responses during the Democratic debates, from the policy proposals available on each candidate’s website, and from media coverage of each candidate’s comments on China.

Third, as the race evolves later this year and next year, we will update each candidate’s profile until a final candidate is chosen.

Fourth, once a candidate is nominated, we will try to identify members of the nominee’s Asia team.

Click the links below to read each candidate’s China policy profile:

Vice President Joe Biden:

Senator Elizabeth Warren:

Senator Bernie Sanders:

Mayor Pete Buttigieg:

Senator Kamala Harris: Senator Harris dropped out of the race on 12/03/19

Representative Beto O’Rourke:

Andrew Yang:

Senator Cory Booker:

Senator Amy Klobuchar:

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro:

Each policy profile has been researched and written by the interns of The Carter Center’s China Program. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The Carter Center.