In this interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden was asked about his past votes as US Senator in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in favor of admitting China into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Now it was a combined question, and Biden only addressed the NAFTA part.

But my question is, has Biden discussed his past support for admitting China into the WTO, either during his 2020 Presidential Campaign or in recent years?

The reason I ask is that it’s a politically salient issue, since President Trump has criticized him for it.

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    It's a loaded question. Short term disappointment with China is more salient than creating conditions for progress. Nobody knows if and when and at what level of per capita income will lead to the populace creating pressure for political reform. Without trade growth progress is slower.
    – H2ONaCl
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 19:08
  • @H2ONaCl I’m not asking about any of that stuff. I just want to know if Biden stands behind his vote to let China into the WTO, or whether he has expressed regret for that vote. Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 19:09
  • You first of all have to explain why you are opposed to NAFTA and the admission of China to the WTO. Economists have pointed out the advantages of having NAFTA and China in the WTO. Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 14:56
  • @BeginnerBiker I did not even say that I am opposed to those things, and in fact I agree with you about the economic benefits of free trade. But a lot of people are opposed to the admission of China into the WTO, so I’m wondering whether Biden has expressed regret for his vote or whether he stands by his vote. Where he stands could affect his popularity. Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 14:57
  • I don't see why he would need to discuss it? Is it controversial? Most countries seem to be members of the WTO and most of the ones that aren't are observers. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


It depends what you mean by "discussed". On one hand Biden said (in response a similar q):

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Let me ask you about China. In 2011 when you were vice president you said, quote, "It is in our self-interest that China continue to prosper."

A lot of people think that allowing China into the World Trade Organization, which you supported, extending Most Favored Nation status to China, which you supported, that those steps allowed China to take advantage of the United States by using our own open trade deals against us. Do you think, in retrospect, you were naive about China?

JOE BIDEN: No, here is the thing.

In the context of that, we want China to grow. We don't want a war with China.

And he goes on a tangent how the US is a "Pacific power".

On the other, Biden also said

There’s no going back to business as usual on trade with me.

And he refused to commit to rolling back any of Trump's measures against China, although he did say his administration would review them.

I'm gonna break out my tea leaves now.

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    This doesn’t answer my question. I’m wondering whether Biden stands by his vote to admit China into the WTO, or whether he has expressed regret for his vote. Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 0:48
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    @KeshavSrinivasan: well, he was asked directly (as you can see--that's why I quoted the long q), and he didn't really answer. The D party is playing the "strategic ambiguity" card China nowadays, it seems, and not just with respect to trade but also Taiwan/one-China asiatimes.com/2020/08/… Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 0:52
  • Well, but that was a complex question with a lot of parts, and Biden answered generally about whether he was naive on China and his quote about China prospering. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t addressed it in other venues. Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 0:54

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