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How Biden’s Trade War With China Differs From Trump’s

U.S.How Biden’s Trade War With China Differs From Trump’s

Joseph R. Biden Jr. ran for the White House as a sharp critic of President Donald J. Trump’s crackdown on trade with China. In office, though, he has taken Mr. Trump’s trade war with Beijing and escalated it, albeit with a very different aim.

The two men, locked in a rematch election this fall, share a rhetorical fondness for beating up on China’s economic practices, including accusing the Chinese of cheating at global trade. They also share a building-block policy for countering Beijing: hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs, or taxes, on Chinese imports. Those tariffs were first imposed by Mr. Trump and have been maintained by President Biden.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden announced that he is increasing some of those tariffs. That includes quadrupling electric vehicle tariffs to 100 percent, tripling certain levies on steel and aluminum products to 25 percent, and doubling the rate on semiconductors to 50 percent.

But Mr. Biden’s trade war differs from Mr. Trump’s in important ways. Mr. Trump was trying to bring back a broad swath of factory jobs outsourced to China. Mr. Biden is seeking to increase production and jobs in a select group of emerging high-tech industries — including clean energy sectors, like electric vehicles, that Mr. Trump shows little interest in cultivating.

Mr. Biden has pulled more policy levers, some of them created by Mr. Trump. He has imposed more restrictions on trade with China, including limiting sales of American technology to Beijing, while funneling federal subsidies to American manufacturers trying to compete with Chinese production.

And in a sharp break from Mr. Trump’s go-it-alone posture, Mr. Biden’s strategy relies on bringing international allies together to counter China through a mix of domestic incentives and, potentially, coordinated tariffs on Chinese goods.

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