Joe Biden will likely continue to focus on the Indo-Pacific region to attack China


Joe Biden’s biggest change from Donald Trump will likely be his dealings with allies.

Unlike Donald Trump, about whom Chinese officials knew little before he took office, Joe Biden is known in Beijing. However, it is unlikely that this story will quickly restore a relationship between world powers that has fundamentally changed over the past four years.

China’s official reaction to Biden’s election victory has so far been cautious, without President Xi Jinping publicly congratulating. State-run media like China Daily expressed hope that relations could be “reset for the better” while the Global Times urged Beijing to communicate “as thoroughly as possible” with the Biden team to bring China-US. Relationships to a state of “great predictability”.

“China should not have any illusions that Biden’s election will facilitate or reverse China-US relations, nor should it weaken its belief in improving bilateral relations,” the Global Times said in an editorial on Sunday evening.

“China needs to become a country that the US cannot suppress or destabilize, and make sure that working with China is the best option for the US to pursue its national interests,” she added. “This is the ultimate principle.”

Biden, who has been advocating engagement in Beijing since the 1970s, held extensive meetings with Xi in 2011 when both were serving as vice president. But his stance towards the world‘s second largest economy has tightened in the last decade: During the campaign, he blew Beijing up. For his actions in Hong Kong, he called his policy towards Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang “incomprehensible” and named the Chinese president one “Bat”.

Biden’s transformation in relation to China reflected a wider shift in Washington, where a non-partisan consensus saw Beijing as a threat to the US-led world order when Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods and cracked down on companies from Huawei Technologies Co. to Bytedance Ltd. , the creator of TikTok. In office, Biden is likely to continue Trump’s push back on Chinese assertiveness while working more closely with U.S. allies to contain Beijing – which extends fierce strategic competition.

“The new administration must protect its flank from allegations of being gentle with Beijing,” said James Green, who served as a US diplomat in Asia during both the Obama and Trump administrations. “A return to US-China relations in the mid-2010s is not planned.”

US public opinion on China has deteriorated after years of criticism of trade practices, human rights policies and the Covid-19 pandemic that originated in the city of Wuhan. This will be difficult to reverse, especially as the US is struggling to tackle a third wave of the outbreak after 230,000 Americans have died from the virus.

Biden’s biggest departure from Trump will likely be his dealings with allies. While Trump has attacked traditional American partners like Japan, South Korea and Europe in an attempt to enter into defense commitments and defraud trade, Biden has pledged to work closely with them to enforce Chinese cooperation on priorities ranging from doing business to Hong Kong to 5G technology.

Whether or not this approach is effective, a return to alliance politics is likely to frustrate Beijing.

“Biden could try to improve relations with allies and band together to suppress China,” said He Weiwen, a former official with the Chinese consulates in San Francisco and New York. “Right now, US relations with Europe are deteriorating, so it is difficult to bring allies together to suppress China. If Biden improves relations with European allies, it will be detrimental to China.”

China is preparing for the worst, no matter what. Xi has repeatedly urged China to seek “self-reliance” in key sectors of the economy, and Communist Party officials stressed last week that the country must build its own core technology instead of buying it elsewhere. The focus of this project is the ability to manufacture your own chips, the building blocks for innovations from artificial intelligence to 5G networks and autonomous vehicles.


Xi also recently used the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean War to point out that his country will not be intimidated by American military power. That message comes as Beijing escalates threats against Taiwan. The war “shatters the legend that the US Army cannot be defeated,” Xi said in a speech last month in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Party dignitaries, military officials and veterans.

Government advisors in Beijing expect a Biden government to continue pressuring China, for example in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and to continue selling more arms to Taiwan.

Not many specials

“Biden’s stance on Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea should be in line with Trump,” said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China and advisor to the Chinese government.

An early test of how Biden might treat Hong Kong differently could come soon as the Trump administration faces a mid-December deadline to name all banks that have transacted with Chinese and Hong Kong officials in charge of undermining autonomy of the territory. Sanctions against major Chinese lenders could escalate tensions and permeate the global financial system.

In the campaign, Biden did not offer many details about what Trump-era policies he would change. It has not undertaken to abolish the “Phase 1” trade agreement with China that it reached in January, nor to withdraw the tariffs it has imposed. He also said little about whether he would allow Huawei to buy state-of-the-art chips again or let TikTok access American users’ data, let alone accept the Trump administration’s “Clean Network” program to convince allies to do so , Communication networks in which Chinese companies are involved, renounce equipment.

Tony Blinken, a senior Biden advisor who is seen as a potential foreign minister, said in September that a president would use Biden tariffs if necessary and seek pledges from China for subsidies and cyber theft – areas that the two sides have repeatedly said Trump’s approval were excluded, unable to reach an agreement.

Regarding Chinese technology, Biden has raised similar national security concerns as Trump – which makes it likely that his administration will continue efforts to restrict certain Chinese tech companies’ access to intellectual property and data in the US.

Trump refused to sanction China’s government for its cruel human rights violations to protect its hollow trade deal and serve its own personal interests.

Still, trade policy under Biden would be “less chaotic and predictable,” said Wendy Cutler, a former senior trade official in the Obama administration who is now vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute. “Most importantly, a Biden government will seek to build collective responses with other countries towards China, rather than taking unilateral measures that have largely failed so far.”

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)


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