US President Donald Trump has been on the attack against his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, for quite some time. The newest in his line of attacks is the claim that Biden, if elected, would turn out to be compliant to China. Trump simplified the message for his followers, saying that Americans will end up speaking Chinese if Biden wins in November. He also went on to imply that China will own America if Biden is elected President. But campaign jibes apart, what might actually change for the US-China relations if Biden lands up in the White House?
US-China relations have gone downhill since Donald Trump took charge as President of the US. Ties between the two superpowers have hit a new low during the COVID crisis. Since coming to power, Trump has consistently used provocative language when discussing Beijing. It all began with his administration marking China as a “strategic competitor”. Trump has repeatedly referred to the Coronavirus as the Chinese virus, and also referred to it as ‘Kung-flu’. He has, time and again, blamed China for dragging the world into this crisis and accused the WHO of being in cahoots with China.
The USA is the world’s biggest economy. China is in second place, albeit rapidly growing faster than its western counterpart. In the economic sphere, China is the only possible threat to the US’s position as global leader. China has certainly not shied away from the competition, fueling the possibility of a major shift in the global power dynamics.
Watch: Joe Biden on China policy
How Biden, if elected, could influence the White House’s rapport with Beijing
If Biden wins, the America he shall inherit would be a country that has soured towards China, has sanctioned Chinese officials for human rights abuses, arrested alleged Chinese spies and blacklisted Chinese companies. It all culminates into a huge mound of mess which Biden will be expected to clean.
Watch: Would a Biden presidency be good for US-China relations?
The former Vice President has earlier been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and was also one of the core foreign policy advisors to President Barrack Obama. Biden has been a long-term champion for US engagement with China but his tone has shifted over the last few years. He has spoken against Chinese human rights violations and viewed China as a competitor to the US.
Biden, a long-term champion for US engagement with China, has shifted his tone over the last few years.
Biden called China’s President Xi Jinping a “thug” for having “a million Uyghurs in concentration camps.” He has also said he is going to prohibit US Companies from enabling repression and supporting the Chinese surveillance state in response to a new security law in Hong Kong.
Several Obama alumni who are part of Biden’s team have talked about a three-pronged strategy which involves:
- Limiting China’s ability to exploit the US’s open system
- Gaining leverage over China’s growing capabilities
- Competing at full national strength.
The overarching Democrat stand on China
Democrats have said that they are not looking for a cold war but will be tough on Beijing on issues like human rights and trade. They have, however, always maintained a stance promoting a productive relationship on issues such as climate change and arms control.
Nevertheless, their remains a big question mark on whether this approach is too soft for the disciplined approach of China. But the bigger question is whether Biden, as President, would be able to convince all sections of Americans that he is not letting China get away while being successful at his diplomacy. US-China relations are crucial for global politics, and especially critical for South Asian countries headed by India and Pakistan. The current tension at the Indo-Sino border has once again brought forth the opportunity for US to play a vital role in the geographic resolutions in Asia.
While Democrats downplay the Chinese Communist Party's role in spreading this pandemic around the world, Americans aren't fooled.— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) August 5, 2020
78% of our nation rightfully place blame on China for the global spread of coronavirus.
We need to hold them accountable.https://t.co/UtbggYnUGC
By any measure, China is and remains a challenge for Biden and the USA. It will be interesting to see the dynamic change in a post COVID world, possibly under a new presidency.