2020 U.S. presidential election China tracker

Where do the Democratic candidates for president stand on China? How would they approach U.S.-China relations differently than Trump? 

Updated: October 10, 2019

Our video compilation of all mentions of “China” in the September 12 primary debates. See also our earlier compilation of Every mention of “China” in first round of debates in June.

America is gearing up for an extraordinary presidential election, and China is a country — and an issue — about which every candidate needs to form a position. How the next president handles China could define their presidency, and even the future of the U.S., and one of the most important foreign policy questions for candidates to answer is: “How would you approach relations with China differently than Trump?”

As candidates craft their answers to this and other questions about U.S. policy toward China, we will update this tracker with the latest information. 

We have given each candidate a “Panda Hugger to Slugger” rating, where there are three broad categories.

Click on the candidate’s image to view their full China position profile. 

1. Panda Hugger: If the candidate’s primary message about China is that we should work with Beijing on global problems

2. Panda Slugger: If the candidate’s primary message about China is highly critical of Beijing’s governance or trade policy.

3. Panda Shrugger: If the candidate’s position on China is unclear, or if their statements on China do not have a pattern of friendliness or hostility towards Beijing.

The list is arranged in alphabetical order. For each candidate, we have compiled a selection of their quotes on China and links to articles about their policy positions — click “Quotes on China | Links to articles” to expand this information for each candidate. 

Michael Bennet

Panda Shrugger (standard Democrat positions on China)

  • Key word or phrase: China’s unfair trade practices
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: He wants to keep “China accountable on trade.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the question, “How would you stand up to China?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 27:

“I think the biggest factor in national security is Russia, not China…I think the president has been right to push back against China, but has done it in completely the wrong way. We should mobilize the entire rest of the world who all have a shared interest in pushing back on China’s mercantilist trade policies, and I think we can do that.”

On his strategy on China:
“A real strategy on China would strengthen our alliances, not provoke a trade war.”

On China’s unfair trade practices:
“For decades, China has used unfair trade practices to undermine American jobs and innovation. While the USTR Section 301 investigation did not address all the threats unfair Chinese trade practices pose to the U.S., it did identify several serious concerns faced by American workers and businesses.”

“Any acceptable agreement must, at a minimum, commit China to cease the predatory practices identified in the Section 301 investigation…Your negotiations should seek to extract meaningful commitments from China on each of these elements and end the threats that these policies pose to the U.S. economy and national security. A satisfactory agreement must include a clear and transparent monitoring and enforcement mechanism that allows the United States to hold China accountable.”

On technological threats from China:
“The United States must sharpen efforts to address technology threats from China and other nations that undermine our economic and national security, erode democratic norms, and leave vulnerable our supply chains. Successfully combatting these threats requires a long-term strategy for maintaining U.S. competitiveness in technologies of the future. We must work across public and private sectors to galvanize efforts that ensure our technological competitiveness.”

On Trump’s foreign policy with China:
“Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans,” the senators wrote. “American workers and companies confront rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, agricultural policies that disadvantage American farmers, restrictions on market access for U.S. service providers and manufacturers, and mercantilist industrial policies that have cost U.S. workers their jobs. America’s policies toward China should put American workers, farmers and businesses first, not China’s.

“We urge you to focus on identifying effective strategies to reshape China’s policy approach in each of these areas, such as through enforceable commitments to eliminate forced technology transfer policies, market distorting subsidies, data localization policies, and foreign investment restrictions, and ensuring nondiscriminatory treatment of U.S. firms in regulatory and other proceedings. Above all, we urge you to remain steadfast in enforcing America’s laws.”

On tariffs:
“Putting tariffs on our allies, putting tariffs on even the Chinese that are actually taxes on American producers, American farmers, taxes on the American consumer and taxes on the American worker, I think are completely the wrong way of doing this.”

Links:

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Panda Shrugger (gives conflicting signals on China; tends toward pre-Trump status quo)

  • Key word or phrase: China’s rise is a serious threat, but manageable; “We do need to get tough with China.”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Yes
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? With his long career in government, Biden has voted on and been associated with a lot of different legislation. Our research so far does not reveal any particular pattern with regard to China.
  • Views on trade and globalization: Pro free trade and globalization.

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On trade relations with China, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“The fact of the matter is, China — the problem isn’t the trade deficit, the problem is they’re stealing our intellectual property. The problem is they’re violating the WTO. They’re dumping steel on us. That’s a different issue than whether or not they’re dumping agricultural products on us.

In addition to that, we’re in a position where, if we don’t set the rules, we, in fact, are going to find ourselves with China setting the rules. And that’s why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are underway.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. They are not competition for us.”

“We need to get tough with China. China poses a serious challenge to us, and in some areas a real threat.” 

On the trade war:
“The only people who are paying a price are farmers and working people.” 

“There’s no going back to business as usual on trade. We need new rules, and a new process that has the voices of all stakeholders at the table – including leaders representing labor and the environment.”

On intellectual property:
“China’s greatest violation is the way they steal our intellectual property.”

On climate change:
“We can no longer separate trade policy from our climate objectives. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.”

“Stop China from subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing carbon pollution. China is far and away the largest emitter of carbon in the world, and through its massive Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing is also annually financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil fuel energy projects across Asia and beyond. Biden will rally a united front of nations to hold China accountable to high environmental standards in its Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects, so that China can’t outsource pollution to other countries.”

On Hong Kong:
“The extraordinary bravery shown by hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong, marching for the civil liberties & autonomy promised by China is inspiring. And the world is watching. All of us must stand in support of democratic principles and freedom.”

“The brave people of Hong Kong deserve the full support of the United States as they demand the civil liberties and autonomy promised to them. Violent suppression is unacceptable. The world is watching.” [most recent tweet, October 1]

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“The United States should push back on China’s deepening authoritarianism, even as we seek to cooperate on issues where our interests are aligned. It is inspiring to see the brave people of Hong Kong demonstrating peacefully for the civil liberties and autonomy promised by Beijing. The world is watching; we should all stand in support of democratic principles and freedom.

The forced detention of over a million Uighur Muslims in western China is unconscionable. America should speak out against the internment camps in Xinjiang and hold to account the people and companies complicit in this appalling oppression, including through sanctions and applying the Magnitsky Act.

The challenge doesn’t stop at China’s borders. Freedom in the 21st century will be won and lost in cyberspace. The Free World should come together to compete with China’s efforts to proliferate its model of high-tech authoritarianism. The United States should lead in shaping the rules, norms, and institutions that will govern the use of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence. Through diplomacy and development finance, we can work with democratic allies to provide countries with a digital alternative to China’s dystopian system of surveillance and censorship. These efforts could begin at the global Summit for Democracy that I will host my first year in office.

Most important is that we lead once again by the power of our example. America’s commitment to universal values sets us apart from China. I will reinvigorate and repair our democracy by eliminating the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, increasing our refugee admissions, and ending the indefensible practice of separating families at the border. That is how to project a model that others want to emulate, rather than following China’s authoritarian path.”

In the CFR questionnaire, on the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?”
“When it comes to trade, either we’re going to write the rules of the road for the world or China is – and not in a way that advances our values. That’s what happened when we backed out of TPP – we put China in the driver’s seat. That’s not good for our national security or for our workers. TPP wasn’t perfect but the idea behind it was a good one: to unite countries around high standards for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and transparency, and use our collective weight to curb China’s excesses. Going forward, my focus will be on rallying our friends in both Asia and Europe in setting the rules of the road for the 21st century and joining us to get tough on China and its trade and technology abuses. That’s much more effective than President Trump’s so-called America First approach that in practice is America Alone, alienating our allies and undermining the power of our collective leverage. My trade policy will also start at home, by investing in strengthening our greatest asset—our middle class. I would not sign any new trade deal until we have made major investments in our workers and infrastructure. Nor would I sign a deal that does not include representatives for labor and the environment at the negotiating table and strong protections for our workers.”

In the CFR questionnaire, on the question, “How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?”
“The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice…outlines a number of specific steps to deter and dissuade China from subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing carbon pollution, including G20 commitments to end all export finance subsidies of high-carbon projects, offering alternative sources of development financing for lower-carbon investments, and making future U.S.-China bilateral agreements on carbon mitigation contingent on China ending its export subsidies for coal.”

At the Democratic primary debates in July, in response to the question, “would you rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership?”
“I’d renegotiate. We make up 25 percent of the world’s economy. In order — either China is going to write the rules of the road for the 21st century on trade or we are. We have to join with the 40 percent of the world that we had with us, and this time make sure that there’s no one sitting at that table doing the deal unless environmentalists are there and labor is there.

And to make sure we equip our workers first to compete by investing in them now, in the things that make them more competitive. That’s what we have to do. Otherwise, they are going to write the rules of the road. We must have the rest of the world join us to keep them in check from abusing…

[asked to clarify by moderator] I would not rejoin the TPP as it was initially put forward. I would insist that we renegotiate pieces of that with the Pacific nations that we had in South America and North America, so that we could bring them together to hold China accountable for the rules of us setting the rules of the road as to how trade should be conducted. Otherwise, they’re going to do exactly what they’re doing, fill the vacuum and run the — and run the table.”

Links 

 

Cory Booker

Panda Shrugger (standard Democrat positions on China)

  • Key word or phrase: A pro-fair trade Democrat
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: He thinks the global trade agreements that the U.S. has been in are harmful to factory workers and small businesses in America. “We did not account for how globalism was going to severely hurt people in America.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On strategy toward China, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“We cannot go up against China alone. This is a president that has a better relationship with dictators, like Duterte and Putin, than he does with Merkel and Macron. We are the strongest nation on the planet Earth, and our strength is multiplied and magnified when we stand with our allies in common cause and common purpose. That’s how we beat China. That’s how we beat climate change on the planet Earth, and that’s how American values are the ones that lead on issues of trade and workers’ rights.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“China is playing an unfair game and their goal is to keep us divided. Trump played into their strategy.”

“I’m saying that if we are going to win in Asia, we need to bring together the allies that we have there, and do a deal that works for us to counter and check China in a substantive way.”

On American tech companies:
“So what I do have more of a problem with is the tech companies who are allowing China’s values on privacy, on security, using those tech platforms to squelch the human rights of others to surveil their citizens. These are things that I have a problem with. Tech companies are willing to sacrifice values for profit. That’s unacceptable to me.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“Protecting human rights must be a central tenet of our foreign policy and that means protecting persecuted religious and ethnic minorities and preventing genocides. If I am president, whenever the United States meets with China, human rights will be a focus of the conversation.

I am deeply disturbed by the human rights abuses happening in China’s Xinjiang region and support putting companies that build the detention camps there and their surveillance systems on the Commerce Department’s Entity List, in addition to using the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction the people involved with the detention camps.

I am also a co-sponsor of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires a series of reports on China’s treatment of the Uighars, including from the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence, that would be used to determine whether certain individuals meet the criteria for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

As president I will also insist that China honor the commitments it has made for the autonomy of Hong Kong, and will be a voice for the people of Hong Kong and their ability to organize and express their opinions.”

Links:

Pete Buttigieg

Panda Shrugger (highly critical of Beijing’s governance, but also wants to “find areas of cooperation, from climate to security to trade”)

  • Key word or phrase: “Chinese techno-authoritarianism”; “they’re not going to change their fundamental economic model because we poked them with a few tariffs”; “the ultimate way to stay ahead of China is to invest in our domestic competitiveness”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: Proponent of fair trade policy

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the question, “would you repeal the tariffs?”, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“I would have a strategy that would include the tariffs as leverage, but it’s not about the tariffs. Look, what’s going on right now is a president who has reduced the entire China challenge into a question of tariffs, when what we know is that the tariffs are coming down on us more than anybody else and there’s a lack of a bigger strategy.”

On Hong Kong (in Meet the Press interview):
“Certainly the people of Hong Kong need to know that we stand with them. And China needs to know that if they’re going to perpetrate a repeat of Tiananmen, they will be isolated from the Democratic world.”

On his strategy toward China (in Meet the Press interview):
“We can find areas of cooperation, from climate to security to trade. It just has to be something that actually works for Americans. Now obviously the current strategy, I’m not even sure you can call it a strategy, let’s say the current pattern of poking China in the eye with tariffs and seeing what will happen, isn’t working…My focus, in terms of a China strategy, will be identifying areas of mutual advantage and holding them accountable for the problems that we’ve seen created by things like currency manipulation. Just realize that they’re not going to change their fundamental economic model because we poked them with a few tariffs. That’s why the ultimate way to stay ahead of China is to invest in our domestic competitiveness.”

“In response to the question, “How would you stand up to China?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 27:
“I mean, first of all, we’ve got to recognize that the ‘China challenge’ really is a serious one. This is not something to dismiss or wave away. And if you look at what China is doing, they’re using technology for the perfection of dictatorship. 

But their fundamental economic model isn’t going to change because of some tariffs. I live in the industrial Midwest. Folks who aren’t in the shadow of a factory are somewhere near a soy field where I live, and manufacturers, and especially soy farmers, are hurting.

Tariffs are taxes. And Americans are going to pay on average $800 more a year because of these tariffs. Meanwhile, China is investing so that they could soon be able to run circles around us in artificial intelligence. And this President is fixated on the China relationship as if all that mattered was the export balance on dishwashers. We’ve got a much bigger issue on our hands.

But at a moment when their authoritarian model is being held up as an alternative to ours because ours looks so chaotic compared to theirs right now, because of our internal divisions, the biggest thing we’ve got to do is invest in our own domestic competitiveness. If we disinvest in our own infrastructure, education, we are never gonna be able to compete. And if we really want to be an alternative, a democratic alternative, we actually have to demonstrate that we care about democratic values at home and around the world.”

On the anniversary of Tiananmen (in a tweet):
“Today we honor those who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods for freedom and democracy in Tiananmen Square. And for those still fighting, from the Uighurs of Xinjiang to China’s courageous activists, publishers, lawyers, students, and feminists: We see you. We’re with you.”

On Hong Kong (in a tweet):
“Inspiring to see so many in Hong Kong marching peacefully this weekend. We must continue America’s commitment to Hong Kong’s openness, democratic values, and judicial independence.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of the Uighurs and other minorities, and growing pressure on Hong Kong, are symptomatic of a broader, and intensifying, ‘systems’ competition. Beijing seems committed to consolidating and legitimizing authoritarian capitalism as an alternative to the democratic capitalism embraced by the United States and its closest allies and partners.

Where necessary and feasible, we should seek cooperation with Beijing, such as in addressing climate disruption, maintaining strategic stability, combatting terrorism, and managing conflict through international peacekeeping. But the United States must defend our fundamental values, core interests, and critical alliances, and accept that this will often entail friction with China.

For too long we have underestimated China’s ambitions, while overestimating our ability to shape them. We must instead focus on repairing our democracy and reinvesting in our economic and technological competitiveness; inoculating open societies from corrupt, coercive, or covert political interference; strengthening, rather than straining, our alliances in order to put collective pressure on China for unfair economic practices, human rights abuses, and intimidation of countries that stand up for their sovereignty; realigning defense and other national security investments to reflect China’s military modernization and full-spectrum statecraft; and reducing vulnerabilities from economic interdependence by disentangling the most sensitive sectors of our economies–in an orderly, not chaotic, fashion–and ensuring that American and allied resources and technologies do not underpin authoritarian oppression and surveillance.”

In the CFR questionnaire, on the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
“I would not support the US joining the current CPTPP. It lacks critical trade provisions on labor, environment, and the digital economy, and does not align closely enough with the needs and interests of American workers….

At the same time, we should not surrender the world’s fastest growing markets in Asia to other nations. It is where China wants to dominate and is buying influence through their Belt and Road initiative. China is negotiating broad new trade agreements with their neighbors that favor China’s economy and workers. These agreements also enshrine non-democratic principles at the expense of the US and free people. Sitting on the sidelines is a losing proposition for America.

We cannot just put up walls around our economy. We need to be setting the rules of the road for the future, so that strategic and economic competition with China happens on our terms.”

In CFR questionnaire, on the question, “How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?”
“…the US can leverage trade agreements to reduce the amount of coal funded through China’s Belt and Road initiative.”

Links:

Julián Castro

Panda Shrugger (critical of Beijing, but also pro-trade)

  • Key word or phrase: China is a rising power that needs to be reined in
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: “I do think that we ought to only strike trade agreements that are good for American workers and American companies. I disagree with people who say we’re going to close off trade — I don’t agree with that.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On competing with China in Latin America, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“And under my administration, we’re going to put renewed focus on Latin America. It makes sense. They’re our neighbors and we have a lot of things in common. It also makes sense that, because we have a country like China that is going around the world to places like Africa and Latin America, making their own relationships, strengthening those, the United States needs to strengthen its partnerships in Latin America immediately.”

In response to the question, “what do you do for leverage? Where do you get it?”, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“So when I become president, I would immediately begin to negotiate with China to ratchet down that trade war. We have leverage there. I also believe, though, that we need to return to a leader when it comes to things like human rights.

We have millions of Uighurs, for instance, in China that right now are being imprisoned and mistreated.”

On the human rights crisis in Xinjiang:
“The government of the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to erase Uighur culture and identity, including through holding up to a million individuals in concentration camps, is morally reprehensible. The United States must speak up and hold those in China accountable for these practices.”

“I support placing foreign companies complicit in China’s oppression of Uighurs on the Commerce Department’s Entity List, preventing them from doing business with United States companies or individuals, and will ensure no American company benefits from forced labor in Xinjiang. I also support using the tools of the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction those running the camps.”

In response to the question, “Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 26:
“China and climate change.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“And it’s more important than ever that we have allies around the world because we have countries like China that are growing very quickly, that are projected to get stronger and stronger militarily and economically.”

“We should allow China to compete, but not cheat.”

On Trump’s approach towards China:
“I mean Trump has been talking about that for 30 years. About how he thinks that the United States is getting ripped off by China. The problem is that the president has done a terrible job when it comes to laying the groundwork, setting the foundation to actually outcompete a country like China. He’s chosen a go-it-alone strategy that is hurting everybody from farmers in Iowa to business owners in Texas. And it doesn’t help many people.”

Links:

John Delaney

Panda Slugger (prioritizes addressing business grievances against China)

  • Key word or phrase: Intellectual property
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: “You have to build a coalition of all the countries in the world, and our private companies, to have a unified front in dealing with China around the issues that actually really matter.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the question, “Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 26:
“The greatest geopolitical challenge is China, while the greatest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons.”

On trade war:
“The President is right that we have a big problem with China.”

“China is our main rival economically. No question.”

“China has acted like ‘pirates.’ And that’s the best word I could come up with.”

“In many ways, he (Trump) is the mirror image of the Chinese. They don’t sell a set of values, they don’t sell kind of a global order if you will, they don’t sell allies, they sell transnational relationships.”

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
“I think President Obama was right. He did include environmental standards. He did include labor standards. We would be in an entirely different position with China if we had entered the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We can’t isolate ourselves from the world. We can’t isolate ourselves from Asia. “

On intellectual property:
“The question is how do we deal with the fact that they steal intellectual property. We cannot let that happen. And we have to build competitive alternatives.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“It is critical that United States foreign policy be based on a solid foundation of moral principles; that foundation is what has always distinguished the U.S. on the world stage. Within that context, we must place a high priority on defending human rights of all people globally and when confronted with human rights abuses by countries with whom we have relations, we must make the resolution of those abuses an important part of our engagement with that country. There should be no exception to this bedrock foundational policy, not in China, not anywhere and the well documented abuses by the Chinese government that are occurring with respect to the Uighurs demand a U.S. and global response. My administration would work closely with appropriate United Nations agencies – and the U.S. Congress – to investigate human rights abuses which have been committed against the Uighur people. I would place this issue front and center in diplomatic discussions with the Chinese government and would urge them to accord human rights protections to all peoples under their domain. With regard to Hong Kong, while I respect the Chinese government’s right to govern within its borders, I will voice strong support for Hong Kong’s right to autonomy awarded to the city by its status as a special administration region. Hong Kong’s ability to manage its own affairs is important to U.S. policy since thousands of U.S. businesses operate out of Hong Kong because of the economic and political protections.”

In the CFR questionnaire, on the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
“I would seek to reenter the TPP on day one of my administration. In response to the emergence of China as a dominant economic power on the international stage – which does not always adhere to accepted trade and economic norms and rules – 12 leading Pacific Rim countries reached agreement on a set of protocols for a rules-based trade deal covering 40% of the global economy to counter Chinese economic misconduct. I was one of a handful of Democrats who voted in favor of Trade Promotion Authority to give President Obama the ability to effectively negotiate TPP because I felt we needed a strong strategic response to China. I believed that the United States alone could not stand against China, that it would take a multilateral and strategic effort to counter China. The Trump Administration has abandoned this approach in favor of a trade war with China, a trade war that has had a serious negative impact on hard working Americans and several sectors of the United States economy.”

Links:

Tulsi Gabbard

Panda Hugger (prioritizes “de-escalating tensions” with China and lifting tariffs)

  • Key word or phrase: Nuclear
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: Gabbard “strongly stood against” trade agreements like the TPP and NAFTA, saying “hard working Americans have suffered, lost their jobs and livelihoods” as a consequence of them.

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On nuclear:
“We have rising tensions with nuclear armed countries like Russia and China.”

“So it’s important for us to make sure that we are de-escalating tensions with nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, and build those relationships that are based more on cooperation, rather than conflict.”

On trade war:
“Trump’s trade-war against China has damaged, not helped, our economy, has undermined our efforts to denuclearize North Korea, and has strengthened the hand of Chinese anti-American militarists.”

At the second Democratic primary debates in July 2019, in response to the question, “would you keep President Trump’s tariffs on China in place?”
“I would not, because the approach that President Trump has taken has been extremely volatile without any clear strategic plan, and it has a ravaging and devastating effect on our domestic manufacturers, on our farmers, who are already struggling and now failing to see the light of day because of the plan that Trump has taken.”

At the second Democratic primary debates, in response to the question, “Many saw the Trans-Pacific Partnership issue as something that would be a critical tool to deal with the rise of China. You were against it. How would you ensure that the United States is able to remain competitive against China on the world stage?”
“By pushing for fair trade, not trade deals that give away the sovereignty of the American people and our country, that give away American jobs, and that threaten our environment. These are the three main issues with that massive trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I think the central one was the fact that it gave away our sovereignty to a panel of international corporations whose rulings would supersede any domestic law that we would pass, either a federal law or a state or a local law. This is extremely dangerous and goes against the very values that we have as a country.

What to speak of the fact that it would have a negative impact on domestic jobs and that it lacked clear protections for our environment. These are the things that we have to keep at the forefront as we look to enact fair trade deals with other countries to make sure that we continue to be a thriving part of our global economy.”

On climate change:
“Even as we must do all that we can here in this country, it still won’t be enough unless we build relationships based on cooperation, rather than conflict, with other countries that are big contributors to this threat — countries like China, for example. While we have differences in certain areas, this is an issue that is a global crisis and can only be addressed with global action.”

Links:

Kamala Harris

Panda Shrugger

  • Key word or phrase: Rethink tariffs and bring China back to the negotiation table
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? In December, in an attempt to urge the Trump administration “protect American technology from China,” she introduced a bill to update the Economic Espionage Act to expand prosecutors’ ability to go after foreign hackers stealing trade secrets.
  • Views on trade and globalization: America needs better trade agreements than TPP to “protect workers and environmental regulations”; “I am not a protectionist Democrat.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the question, “how would your trade policy differ from President Obama’s?”, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“I am not a protectionist Democrat. Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas. That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen.

You asked earlier about China. It’s a complicated relationship. We have to hold China accountable. They steal our products, including our intellectual property. They dump substandard products into our economy. They need to be held accountable.

We also need to partner with China on climate and the crisis that that presents. We need to partner with China on the issue of North Korea. I am on — and I think the only person on this stage — the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee. We need a partner on the issue of North Korea.”

On tariffs:
“These tariffs would be particularly harmful for California, which has the country’s largest consumer electronics sector. The industry contributes $438 billion each year to California’s economy and directly employs over 900,000 workers in the state. Over 80,000 of these jobs are supported by exports.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“Whether it’s the nuclear threat of North Korea and Iran, chaos and oppression in Venezuela, or confronting China’s unfair trade practices, the U.S. is most effective at confronting global challenges when we work in lockstep with our partners.”

America should address “the threat [China] presents to our economy, the threat it presents to American workers.”

On intellectual property issues:
She accused China of “engaging in “unfair industrial policies and outright theft of American intellectual property.”

On Trump’s foreign policy with China:
“The president and his administration have failed to realize we’re stronger when we work with our allies on every issue — China included.”

“While we agree with the findings of your office’s recent investigation into China’s unfair industrial policies and outright theft of American intellectual property, we are concerned that the Administration’s trade actions are counterproductive to its goal of ensuring a level playing field for American companies.”

On the Hong Kong protests:
“I stand with the people of Hong Kong and affirm the fundamental right of all people to peacefully protest for their rights. The President of the United States should call for the same.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“China’s abysmal human rights record must feature prominently in our policy toward the country. We can’t ignore China’s mass detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims in “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang region, or its widespread abuse of surveillance for political and religious repression. We can’t ignore Beijing’s failure to respect the rights and autonomy of Hong Kong’s people and the Hong Kong government’s excessive use of force against peaceful protestors. President Trump has consistently turned a blind eye to these abuses in hopes of earning a ‘win’ in his trade war, all to no avail.

Under my administration, we will cooperate with China on global issues like climate change, but we won’t allow human rights abuses to go unchecked. The United States must reclaim our own moral authority and work with like-minded nations to stand up forcefully for human rights in China and around the world.”

Links

Amy Klobuchar

Panda Shrugger (standard Democrat positions on China)

  • Key word or phrase: A delicate balance on trade issues
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: She has urged Trump “to quickly strike new trade deals and get rid of Chinese tariffs that have hurt pockets of the U.S. agricultural industry.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the question, “Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 26:
“Two threats: Economic threat, China; but our major threat right now is what’s going on in the Mid-East with Iran.”

On the trade war:
“China is someone that has been a country that’s been stealing intellectual property, subsidizing their industries, and creating an uneven playfield when it comes to trade.

On military competition and cybersecurity:
She would invest in diplomacy and rebuild the State Department and modernize our military to stay one step ahead of China and Russia, including with serious investments in cybersecurity.

Links:

Beto O’Rourke

Panda Shrugger (has not yet talked in detail about China)

  • Key word or phrase: A trade war with support from American allies
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: “China isn’t paying the price for this reckless trade war. We are.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On the trade war:
“I strongly agree that we’ve got to do all we can to support the cotton farmers across west Texas. That includes price support for cotton seed — but it also means we stand up together against Trump’s trade war, a trade war that will devastate Texas farmers.”

“Let’s make sure we hold other countries of the world accountable, but let’s not do it at the expense of our farmers, our growers, our producers, those who are fundamental to the success of the U.S. economy.”

“Trump knows full well how destructive his trade wars have been. They amount to one of the biggest middle-class tax hikes in history. But even with so many farmers crippled by tariffs, drowning in debt, and some farms still underwater, our President has refused to throw them a meaningful lifeline.”

“When in the history of this country have we ever gone to war, a military fight or a trade war, without allies? Because that’s exactly what we are doing now with China.”

“Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and entire communities of Americans have paid the price for these trade wars. What we see is another example of Donald Trump trying to be both the arsonist who created this problem in the first place and the firefighter who wants credit for addressing it.”

“As president, we will hold China accountable, but we will bring our allies and friends, like the European Union, to bear, and we’ll also negotiate trade deals that favor farmers and American workers and protect human rights and the environment and labor.”

On Joe Biden’s China remarks:
“On China, he says China is no threat—nothing to worry about. And now seems to be changing his message on that. So I’m not exactly sure what he believes.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“To address complex global challenges—climate change chief among them—we need smart, principled engagement with China. But we don’t do ourselves, or our relationship with China, any favors by not being forthright about our core values. Chinese oppression of the Uighur minority is a human rights disaster, and the United States should not only be condemning their detention and surveillance, but should be leading an international effort to pressure China to relent. Likewise, the people of Hong Kong should have no doubt about where we, as Americans, stand in their struggle to preserve democracy against increasing efforts by the Chinese government to undermine it.

These issues are not—and should not be seen as—separate from other strategic interests we pursue in the broader relationship with China. Our values are assets, not liabilities, in the global competitive environment. Indeed, we are more likely to achieve our other objectives with China when China upholds its human rights obligations, including its promises to respect Hong Kong’s independence.

Navigating the wide range of trade, security, climate, and human rights interests we have with China requires skillful and patient diplomacy, something that is sorely lacking in the current administration. Like all nations, China will act in a way that it believes is consistent with its interests. As President, I will seek to engage China around mutual interests, like climate change, where our countries should be cooperating to build the global green economy.”

Links:

Tim Ryan

Panda Slugger (very critical of trade with China)

  • Key word or phrase: Economic issues
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? Yes (see bill to ban foreign firms “flaunting” U.S. laws)
  • Views on trade and globalization: Ryan said he shares Trump’s concerns with Chinese trade policy, but criticized the president’s “dangerous” lack of strategy. “It roils the markets, it doesn’t provide stability and he’s got no plan. So I’m not going to support this.” Ryan’s congressional district includes the former General Motors plant in Lordstown.

Quotes on China | Links to articles

“In response to the question, “Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 26:
“China without a question. They’re wiping us around the world economically.”

Also as the first Democratic primary debate on June 26, in response to a question on whether he can fulfill a promise to bring back manufacturing jobs to places like Ohio, he decried the tax cuts and “bailouts” General Motors received under the Trump Administration, only to have them leave the country:
“I’ve had family members that have had to unbolt a machine from the factory floor, put it in a box and ship it to China.”

On China’s global influence:
“They’re putting billions of dollars behind these projects, and they have a 100-year plan. We’re in a 24-hour news cycle. And they’re winning, and that’s the urgency that I’m bringing to this race.”

“China is coming at us. They are in Africa. They are locking down long-term deals in Africa for raw materials. They’re building islands in the South China Sea. They’ve got very detailed, long-term programs like their One Belt, One Road, where they’re connecting Asia to the Middle East.”

On the trade war:
“Part of it is having people in the State Department having a long-term, sophisticated, diplomatic operation, being in touch with China, continuing to talk to them and having a relationship with them in the long term but also having an economic strategy of our own in that region of the world, making sure that we are competing globally, we’re not retreating from, you know, NATO and our relationships that we have militarily and diplomatically in that region, and letting our friends and allies know that we are going to be with them and compete in this global economy.”

“Trump does not have a big strategy. He has a tactic that gets him on TV because he sends a tweet out — tariffs are on, tariffs are off — and the media runs with it all the time and it changes the subject and he can look tough. We’re getting our clock cleaned.”

At the second Democratic primary debate in July 2019, in response to the question, “As president, would you continue President Trump’s steel tariffs?”
“Look, I think President Trump was onto something when he talked about China. China has been abusing the economic system for a long time. They steal intellectual property. They subsidize goods coming into this country. They’ve displaced steel workers, auto workers, across the board, eroded our manufacturing. And we basically transferred our wealth of our middle class either up to the top 1 percent or to China for them to build their military.

So I think we need some targeted response against China. But you know how you beat China? You out-compete ’em. And that’s why I’d put a chief manufacturing officer in place to make sure that we rebuild the manufacturing base.

We’ve got to fill these factories that — in Detroit, in Youngstown, that used to make cars and steel. We’ve got to fill them with workers who are making electric vehicles, batteries, charging stations, make sure they’re making solar panels.

As I said earlier, China dominates 60 percent of the solar panel market. They dominate 50 percent to 60 percent of the electric vehicle market. We’re going to make 10 million electric vehicles somewhere in the world in the next 10 years. I want them made in the United States. That’s why I have a chief manufacturing officer that will sit in the White House and help drive this agenda.

What’s the grand strategy for the United States? China has 100-year plan, a 50-year plan, a 30-year plan, a 20-year plan. We live in a 24-hour news cycle. That spells disaster for our economy and disaster for our global politics.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“China’s continued terrible treatment of ethnic Uighurs and their slow, methodical campaign of vilification of Hong Kong protesters should be seen as continued attacks on the concepts of multiculturalism and the rule of law. Throughout my career I have been sounding the alarm about an ascendant China that isn’t committed to democracy, international norms and now, after two decades of the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, seems intent on flexing its muscle politically and militarily. As President, I would increase our human rights pressure on China, especially in these two areas.”

Links:

Bernie Sanders

Panda Slugger (very critical of trade deals and trade with China)

  • Key word or phrase: Fixing trade policies; “You’re looking at somebody, by the way, who helped lead the effort against permanent normal trade relations with China”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? Voted against normalizing trade with China in 2000.
  • Views on trade and globalization: Views trade with China as very unbalanced and responsible for millions of job losses in the United States. Is not opposed to tariffs, if they are “used in a rational way within the context of a broad, sensible trade policy”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On the use of tariffs (in CNN interview):
“Yeah of course, [tariffs are] used in a rational way within the context of a broad, sensible trade policy. It is one tool that is available. You’re looking at somebody, by the way, who helped lead the effort against permanent normal trade relations with China.”

On the human rights crisis in Xinjiang:
“We would do everything that we can to prevent the kind of persecution that is currently happening.”

On trade with China and manufacturing jobs:
“Since the China trade deal I voted against, America has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs. It’s wrong to pretend that China isn’t one of our major economic competitors. When we are in the White House we will win that competition by fixing our trade policies.”

On China’s clean energy investments:
“China, with one-third our per capita income, leads on electric vehicles and renewable energy, while Trump says climate change is a hoax. A Green New Deal would invest in building our electric buses, trains and cars here in America with good union wages.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“China is engaged in a program of mass internment and cultural genocide against the Uighur people. It has also been steadily eroding liberal democracy in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the United States has limited options when it comes to pressuring Beijing to change its policies. But that does not mean that we should, as the Trump administration has done, abandon our role in promoting human rights, whether at the United Nations or as part of our ongoing trade negotiations with China. My administration will work with allies to strengthen global human rights standards and make every effort to let Beijing know that its behavior is damaging its international standing and undermining relations with the United States.”

In the CFR questionnaire, on the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
“Under no circumstance would we rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership under a Sanders Administration. I helped lead the effort against this disastrous unfettered trade agreement.  The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China (PNTR). These treaties have forced American workers to compete against desperate and low-wage labor around the world. The result has been massive job losses in the United States and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories.

Re-joining the TPP would not bring back one American job that has been outsourced to China. Instead, it would force more American workers to compete with desperate workers in Vietnam who make less than a dollar an hour and migrant computer workers in Malaysia who are working as modern-day slaves. It is bad enough to force U.S. workers to compete with low-wage labor; they should not be forced to compete with no-wage labor.

We need to fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to benefit American workers, not just the CEOs of large, multi-national corporations. Rejoining the TPP would be a betrayal of American workers and a step in the wrong direction.”

Links:

Tom Steyer

Panda Shrugger 

  • Key word or phrase: Unclear; few comments on China on record
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: Unclear

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to a Washington Post op-ed by John Kerry titled, “China and India must step up on climate change”:
“China and India ALSO need to see US step up and get our own house in order. We have work to do on our end—and I know we can do it!”

On the U.S.-China trade war, in an interview with CNBC:
“To me, the trade war, Mr. Trump’s trade war, is an absolute, abject failure. And I would walk away from it on the first day of my administration. I think when you’re making a mistake, face up to it and end it. And this is a classic mistake: poorly conceived, poorly executed, and hurting Americans, every single day.”

“Look, I know that China doesn’t obey the rules. I spent 30 years as a businessperson, I watched Chinese companies and the Chinese government systematically cheat in terms of closing markets and stealing intellectual property. But this trade war hasn’t worked one bit, and it’s hurting Americans. What we need to do when we see someone who’s a bad actor in foreign affairs, is we need to work with our allies, who are also being harmed, to use the instruments that are in place like the WTO, to take them on in every single instance. I know they’re doing it. I know it’s wrong. But we have to take them on with other people in a concerted effort every single day. This trade war is an attempt to get away from the actual granular negotiations and hit them over the head. We are tied to China. They are a frenemy. We’re not rooting for China to fail, we’re insisting that they obey the laws so that they can succeed legally and we can prosper the way we deserve to, also legally. It’s a completely different approach that involves not bilateral but multilateral approach, and that takes into account both working people and the environment. Absolutely different from what Mr. Trump is doing.” 

Links:

Elizabeth Warren

Panda Slugger (very critical of trade deals and trade with China)

  • Key word or phrase: China’s leveraging its economic power to legitimize domestic political oppression
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? Sponsors the US – S178 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019
  • Views on trade and globalization: “His [Trump’s] trade policies toward China are hardly stopping Chinese economic malfeasance.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On the NBA controversy, in an October 7 tweet:
“China is trying to use its market power to silence free speech and criticism of its conduct. In response, the NBA chose its pocketbook over its principles—and our values. We should all be speaking out in support of those protesting for their rights.”

In reaction to reports that Trump promised Xi that he would keep quiet on Hong Kong, and also discussed the candidacies of Warren and Biden in a June phone call (October 3 tweet thread):
“Trump can say what he wants about me, but it’s outrageous that any president would sell out the people of Hong Kong behind closed doors.

The public must see the transcript of Trump’s call with Xi. And we need a leader who will stand up for our values.

This is a moment for American leadership. The country needs a president capable of both advancing U.S. economic interests and standing up for America’s values, not one who sees the two as in conflict with one another.”

On the protests in Hong Kong, from her October 3 op-ed in Foreign Policy:
“For months, the world has watched as protesters in Hong Kong stood bravely in the face of police and state violence. They deserve our support… 

Hong Kong plays a unique role in the global economy and an essential role for China. That role is sustainable only if Hong Kong is allowed to retain its democratic orientation and traditions… 

The United States must send a clear message that it and its partners expect China to live up to its commitments—and that they will respond when China does not. To send that message over the situation in Hong Kong, the United States should take two steps.

First, it must stop exports of police gear to Hong Kong…

Second, it should provide temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure to Hong Kong residents.”

On the human rights crisis in Xinjiang:
“Like in so many areas, we need to think about the broad range of tools available to us. That includes diplomatic pressure on China, working it in with our economic negotiations, and working with our allies around the world and international communities and international organizations to highlight the problem.”

“I don’t think there is any one obvious answer that’s going to resolve this problem. It’s how we think of all the tools available to us, in order to move it in a better direction … The Trump administration has shown little interest in helping these people or in working with our allies to strengthen international standards that would protect them.”

On China’s economic growth and its political system:
“China weaponized its economy without ever loosening its domestic political constraints.”

“China is on the rise, using its economic might to bludgeon its way onto the world stage and offering a model in which economic gains legitimize oppression.”

Americans cannot support a more integrated economic system with China if it “fails to respect basic human rights”.

On the technological competition between China and the U.S.:
“Would-be rivals, for their part, have watched and learned, and they are hard at work developing technologies and tactics to leapfrog the United States, investing heavily in such areas as robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and quantum computing. China is making massive bets in these and other areas in an effort to surpass the United States as a global technological power.”

“In Asia, we should encourage our allies to enhance their multilateral cooperation and build alternatives to China’s coercive diplomacy. We should also respond to China’s efforts to force foreign companies to hand over sensitive technology in order to gain access to the Chinese market and penalize its theft of U.S. intellectual property.”

On the use of tariffs:
“What I’d like to see us do is rethink all of our trade policy. And I have to say, when President Trump says he’s putting tariffs on the table, I think tariffs are one part of reworking our trade policy overall.”

On the protests in Hong Kong:
The people of Hong Kong are making clear that they will not tolerate repression, and their movement affirms: The power is with the people. They deserve our support and the support of the world.”

Links:

Marianne Williamson

Panda Shrugger (positions unclear or unspecific)

  • Key word or phrase: Unclear; has not spoken about China enough
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: Unclear

Quotes on China | Links to articles

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“China is aggressively engaging in theft, practicing commercial espionage, and ignoring intellectual-property rights as well as trampling on human rights and democracy in their drive to dominate global markets. The US must maintain a strong position regarding China with regard to economics, politics, and human rights. 

China’s treatment of the Uighurs and of Hong Kong reflect their aggressive drive for domination and their disdain for human rights and democracy. The United States needs to stand up for human rights and call out the gross violations of human rights committed by China. It’s a good thing that this week Secretary Pompeo denounced China’s treatment of the Uighurs. We should also be speaking out against the authoritarian push for greater control in Hong Kong where thousands of people are demonstrating for their democratic rights. 

Additionally, the US has the power to prevent China from buying strategically important companies, which we have done through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS). We should exercise this power more vigorously as we defend our economic interests and human rights for all.”

Links

Andrew Yang

Panda Hugger (emphasizes cooperation on global problems)

  • Key word or phrase: Tech competition; “An ascendant China isn’t a direct threat to the United States, as long as we are strong at home”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown; his parents emigrated from Taiwan to the U.S.
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: “The winners of the U.S.-China trade war are Vietnam and Mexico. The losers are U.S. and Chinese businesses and consumers.”

Quotes on China | Links to articles

On the NBA controversy, in a tweet:
“The Chinese government banning the Rockets is a terrible move.”

In response to the question, “Would you repeal the tariffs on your first day in office? And if so, would you risk losing leverage in our trade relationship with China?”, at the third Democratic primary debate on September 12:
“I would not repeal the tariffs on day one, but I would let the Chinese know that we need to hammer out a deal, because right now, the tariffs are pummeling producers and farmers in Iowa who have absolutely nothing to do with the imbalances that we have with China.

A CEO friend of mine was in China recently and he said that he saw pirated U.S. intellectual property on worker workstations to the tune of thousands of dollars per head. And he said, one, how can my workers compete against that? And, two, think about all the lost revenue to American companies.

So, the imbalances are real. But we have to let the Chinese know that we recognize that President Trump has pursued an arbitrary and haphazard trade policy that has had victims on both sides.

So, no to repealing the tariffs immediately, but yes to making sure we come to a deal that addresses the concerns of American companies and American producers.”

In response to the question, “What is the first relationship you would like to reset as president?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 27:
“China, we need to cooperate with them on climate change, AI, and other issues, North Korea.”

At the first Democratic primary debate on June 27, in response to, “Mr. Yang let me bring you in on this. On the issue of China, you have expressed a lot of concerns over technology and taking jobs. Are you worried about China? And if so how would you stand up against it?”
“I just want to agree that I think Russia is our greatest geopolitical threat, because they have been hacking our democracy successfully and they’ve been laughing their asses off about it for the last couple of years. So we should start focusing on that before we start worrying about other threats.

“Now China, they do pirate our intellectual property. It’s a massive problem. But the tariffs and the trade war are just punishing businesses and producers and workers on both sides. I met with a farmer in Iowa who said he spent six years building up a buying relationship with China that’s now disappeared and gone forever, and the beneficiaries have not been American workers or people in China. It’s been Southeast Asia and other producers that have then stepped into the void. So we need to crack down on Chinese malfeasance in the trade relationship, but the tariffs and the trade war are the wrong way to go.”

On intellectual property:
“They (China) have taken advantage of frameworks to their own benefit and we haven’t had some of the same benefits.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“But China is in the midst of a historic increase in prosperity and that is something America should not be threatened by at all.”

“I think China’s being set up as the antagonist by the U.S. If we can see China’s rise as complementary, that would be the best hope. That, unfortunately, is not what I think is the American tendency. But if I become president, hopefully I can make it so.”

On U.S.-China technology competition:
“The US – China tech trade war will have profound implications. It will be a massive setback for Chinese providers like Huawei in the short term. But if they succeed in building software independent of Google they will have a very different ecosystem. I preferred interdependence.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“The treatment of the Uighurs in China is unacceptable, and we need to be a part of the chorus of voices across the world calling the situation out for what it is. It’s also troubling to see China take a more aggressive stance throughout the region, whether towards Hong Kong, Taiwan, or in the South China Sea.

China obviously has great ambition, and their system of government is becoming increasingly authoritarian as they develop more technologies that allow them to monitor and control their population. It’s important that we work with our allies to combat the spread of this authoritarian capitalism, and provide a model for democratic capitalism.

By providing a model and engaging in international work to help developing nations, we can show the world a better way to engage in governing their nations. We should help developing nations to liberalize, and work with them to diversify their economies. Trade and exporting US technologies to these countries can help us build alliances throughout the world as more countries modernize and liberalize.

We need to make sure China isn’t stealing our IP or exporting their authoritarianism to other countries, and we must ensure that we have reliable access to rare earth metals. But the current trade war is just hurting both sides. An ascendant China isn’t a direct threat to the United States, as long as we are strong at home and project that confidence to developing nations, to show them a superior path to the one China is offering.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?”
“Trade deals have inarguably hurt a large number of Americans. By outsourcing American jobs – particularly manufacturing jobs to China – we’ve devastated communities and placed large amounts of financial stress on families.

However, studies show that only 20% of manufacturing job loss is due to trade with China. The other 80% can be attributed to automation. While we need to take steps to ensure that our trade deals work for all Americans, automation is the bigger threat.

I would reenter the TPP in conjunction with policies to ensure the benefits are widely shared, like a VAT, border-adjustment tax, and the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000/month for all American adults.

We need to increase our influence and alliances across the Pacific, so I believe we need to either enter the TPP, or negotiate a similar deal to combat the rising influence of China in the region. We should take this opportunity to renegotiate labor and environmental standards, and intellectual property and data protection, specifically in the tech sector.”

Links:

List of updates to tracker (click to expand)

Update June 27, 2019: Quotes on China from the first Democratic primary debate from four candidates — Julián Castro, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, and Tim Ryan — have been added. Tim Ryan was changed from 3 to 4 on the Hugger to Slugger scale. 

Update June 28, 2019: Quotes on China from the second night of the first Democratic primary debate from four candidates — Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, John Hickenlooper, and Andrew Yang — have been added. 

Update July 23, 2019: Added quotes from Warren, Sanders, and Castro on the crisis in Xinjiang from a July 21 Axios report. For those candidates whose spokespeople answered, a link to the Axios report was added to their links section. Moved Eric Swalwell to “dropped out candidates” section at bottom of list. 

Update July 30, 2019: Added information from July 28 Axios report on candidates’ plans to “take the China issue back from Trump,” and what they would do with tariff policy. 

Update August 8, 2019: Added quotes on China from the second Democratic primary debate on July 30–31, plus information on candidates’ foreign policy views from a Council on Foreign Relations survey

Update August 21, 2019: Hickenlooper moved to “dropped out candidates” section at bottom of list. Quotes and links added for Buttigieg, Harris, and Warren. Responses to the CFR survey from Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang added. 

Update August 29, 2019: Inslee and Gillibrand moved to “dropped out candidates” section at bottom of list. Quotes and links added for Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren. Changed Buttigieg from Slugger to Shrugger, given his recent balancing of criticism of China’s authoritarianism with an emphasis on finding “areas of cooperation, from climate to security to trade.” 

Update September 4, 2019: Candidates sorted into panda hugger, slugger, and shrugger categories at the top.

Update September 13, 2019: Quotes on China from the third Democratic primary debate added for Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, and Yang.

Update October 10, 2019: Quotes and links added for Biden, Warren, and Yang. Bill de Blasio moved to dropped out candidates. Added Tom Steyer. 

List of dropped out candidates (click to expand)

Bill de Blasio

Dropped out of the primary race on September 20, 2019.

Panda Shrugger (unclear positions on China)

  • Key word or phrase:  Unknown
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization:  Unknown

No quotes on China found.

Links:

Kirsten Gillibrand

Dropped out of the primary race on August 28, 2019

Panda Shrugger

  • Key word or phrase: To “hold China accountable” and “outcompete China”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? At a town hall meeting with CNN, she said that she learnt Chinese in college and had a great time travelling across the country. She studied at Beijing Normal University in 1986 and spent a second semester in Taiwan. She researched Tibetan refugees and interviewed the Dalai Lama for her senior project, and later spent four months in Hong Kong as a corporate lawyer.
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? In June, She introduced a bill that would “level the playing field” for American workers in global trade agreements. She sponsored two China-related bills: US – S178 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019; US – S1634 South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act of 2019.
  • Views on trade and globalization: She opposes TPP and “called for action to end unfair Chinese trade practices, including state subsidies in renewable energy and restricted exports of rare-earth metals.”

On her bill:
“The Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act of 2019 would require any future trade agreements that is eligible for fast track consideration by Congress to include enforceable wage, workplace, and environmental standards. This would help ensure that American workers and businesses are not undercut by foreign imports that are made by workers who are paid substandard wages or who work in hazardous conditions, and that imports are manufactured using sustainable production methods that uphold environmental standards.”

On Trump’s foreign policy with China:
“He ran on no bad trade deals. He started a trade war that is crippling our farmers and crippling our manufacturers. He ran on the system’s rigged and all he’s done is line his cabinet with the elite of the elite.”

In response to the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, on the question, “How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?”
“I am deeply troubled by the alarming reports of widespread human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim Chinese citizens. I have called on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to update U.S. export controls on American technology to ensure that neither China nor other repressive regimes can use American technology to commit human rights violations. I have further supported targeted sanctions against those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses of human rights, and have cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. America must pursue a variety of goals in the bilateral relationship with China, including holding them accountable for currency cheating, unfair trade practices, and cyber theft of American technology and Americans’ data. But history has taught us that we never ultimately advance our interests when we ignore human rights abuses. I believe we can support human rights in the context of addressing our country’s vital national security and economic interests.”

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John Hickenlooper

Dropped out of the primary race on August 15, 2019

Panda Hugger (emphasizes international cooperation)

  • Key word or phrase: “Re-energize trade with the world”
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? No
  • Views on trade and globalization: Hickenlooper is a proponent of “open and fair” trade policy. He called Trump’s trade policy “reckless”, saying the trade war is “a tax on the American people.”

In response to the question, “What is the first relationship you would like to reset as president?”, at the first Democratic primary debate on June 27:
“The first country I would go to, and I understand they have been cheating and stealing intellectual property, would be China because if we are going to deal with public health pandemics, if we are going to deal with all of the challenges of the globe, we’ve got to have relationships with everyone.”

On U.S.-China relations:
“We should have a vision of where we want to be with China in ten years. And how do we get there, right? We don’t have protocols for cybersecurity right now. If there’s an incursion, there’s a breach of our cybersecurity, at different levels of that breach we don’t have protocols the way we did with military, from the Cold War. Think about Ebola pandemics.”

“So ten years down the road, that means we’ve got to be maybe not partners with China, but we gotta have a working relationship. We have to get to a point where they’re not stealing our intellectual property. Or they’re not cheating on the treaties that we have in place. Where we have some level of trust and, you know, we have certain shared goals that are explicit and non-transactional in nature.”

On intellectual property:
“When you look at some of these electronics companies and how they’re having to rebuild their supply chains because of these tariffs, these are … supply chains that were designed to create jobs in the United States. And now those jobs are probably moving away, moving out of the country forever.”

During the second Democratic primary debates in July 2019, in an exchange on trade:
“I think Congressman Delaney has got a point here. And there is a way of looking at trade that is therapeutic.

The bottom line is, you talk to any economist, there is not a single example in history where a trade war had a winner. Trade wars are for losers. And the bottom line is we’ve got to recognize, let’s negotiate a better trade deal. But you’re not going to win against China in a trade war when they’ve got 25 percent of our total debt.”

During the second Democratic primary debates in July 2019, on climate change:
“We’ve got to be building bridges right now with people like China, who were cheating on international agreements and stealing intellectual property. We need to work on that, but not with a tariff system. We need every country working together if we’re going to really deal with climate change in a realistic way.”

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Jay Inslee

Dropped out of the primary race on August 28, 2019

Panda Hugger (sees cooperation on climate change as top priority)

  • Key word or phrase: Re-engaging with China
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? As Washington Governor, Inslee facilitated an array of high-level technological and educational cooperations between his state and China.
  • Been to China? Yes
  • Associated with any previous China policies? Yes
  • Views on trade and globalization: Pro-trade and globalization. “Part of our success is the result of the globally-oriented outlook of our companies. We depend on positive working relationships with our trading partners and access to foreign markets to sell our goods and services worldwide.”

On trade war:
“Unfortunately, the president’s erratic and unilateral moves undermine everything we’ve done to build up markets for our world-class products. The losers in these deals are Washington’s hard-working, job-creating manufacturers and growers and their customers.”

“Certainly there are a couple companies that say, ‘Gee, I like that protection.’ But for many others it’s not been good. They have to increase cost to their customers or absorb the costs of the tariffs. Many have investment plans, and now all of a sudden their exports are down and the cash flow they were going to use to finance their investment is shaky.” —Robert Hamilton, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s trade adviser

On climate change:
“We know that China is doing some significant investment in clean energy domestically. We know that they recognize that air quality in Beijing is a threat to the stability of that nation. And when you talk to leaders in China they’ll tell you that’s the thing that they actually might lose the most sleep over. So they are taking dramatic action to reduce some of their carbon emissions domestically. But unfortunately, under the Belt and Road provision, they are not exporting coal around the world. And we have to use every single policy available to reengage China to stop those investments on a(n) international level, which is every bit as dangerous.”

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Eric Swalwell

Dropped out of the primary race on July 8, 2019

Panda Shrugger

  • Key word or phrase: A trade war with China is no good
  • Business, professional, or family ties to China? Unknown
  • Been to China? Unknown
  • Associated with any previous China policies? In 2014, he praised WTO’s decision on China’s improper export restraints
  • Views on trade and globalization: He thinks a trade war with China “was not beneficial to the United States and said he believes Trump has alienated nations with longstanding relationships with the U.S.”

On rare earth element exports from China:
Rep. Eric Swalwell on Twitter: “My bill countered China’s cheating around rare earth element exports by getting the US in the game. @GOPLeader and I negotiated a compromise consensus bill. @Heritage_Action opposed it & sent @MickMulvaneyOMB to @HouseFloor to object to unanimous consent.”

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