Biden 'smoother' to deal with

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Biden 'smoother' to deal with

2020-08-20

Source: Global Times   Published: 2020-08-19


Although most observers, polls and surveys made by US media outlets and institutes, as well as Chinese experts predicted that Joe Biden could defeat Donald Trump to become the next US president in the November presidential election, but if Trump is reelected, it won't become another Black Swan incident like his victory in 2016. Biden was officially nominated as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate at the party's convention Tuesday.


The Democrats' national convention showed unity as all senior members and several former Democratic presidents endorsed Biden.


The Republicans are much more divided. Some senior Republican figures, including Colin Powell, a former US secretary of state and a top advisor to three Republican presidents, even endorsed Biden.


Many Chinese analysts predict that China will need to deal with Biden in at least the next four years, and they noticed that the proposed Democrat platform on foreign policy showed that if Biden wins, the US will remain tough on China. So Beijing should remain vigilant. But tactically, the US approach would be more predictable, and Biden is much smoother to deal with than Trump — a viewpoint that is shared by many countries.


Although Biden would very likely to use totally different tactics to continue the US-launched great power competition with China, such as restoring  negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. As long as the US returns to multilateralism, the two greatest economies in the world could at least have more reasons to dialogue and cooperate, Chinese analysts said.


The Democratic Party's proposed platform criticizes China's trade practices, proposes less spending on national defense, and opposes "forever wars" as it seeks to lay out the party's foreign policy goals and highlight differences with the Trump administration, the VOA reported on Tuesday.


China has become one of the central foreign policy issues of the 2020 US presidential election, heightened by Trump's trade war with the country, as well as the blame game against China to cover up for his administration's failed handling of the coronavirus pandemic.


In their party platform, Democrats took a strong stance against China's trade policies, and sought to portray Trump's efforts against the country as not tough enough, and also said that the tariff war that the Trump administration started with China more than two years ago has weakened the US economy.


Diao Daming, a China-US relations expert at the Renmin University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "according to the platform, it seems the Democrats have accepted the fundamental stance of great power competition laid by the Republicans. They can only make tactical-level adjustments" if Biden wins the election.


The Democrats would pressure China through multilateral approaches, and prefer to hype issues on ideological differences, which means the two major powers will continue to clash on topics like Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Even if the tariff war ends, the new administration could make more rules which favor the US, and force the Chinese government to follow the rules, Diao said.


"Biden could revive Barack Obama's legacy. Negotiations on the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be restarted very soon if Biden takes office," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.


The Democrats could also make stricter rules to force Chinese IT companies to obey, and use an approach that looks more legitimate and decent to suppress Chinese high-tech industries, Diao noted, while tensions in the Taiwan Straits could be eased.


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (left) and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Xinhua


Biden 'smoother to deal with'


The platform is largely symbolic because Biden does not have to endorse its positions. However, the platform provides an outline of the party's vision and policy priorities, the VOA report said.


Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, said that "Biden is definitely smoother to deal with, which is the consensus around the world. For China, because Biden was vice president during Obama's term, and had a lot of prior experience dealing with Chinese leaders, we would expect to facilitate more effective communication with Biden if he wins."


Lü said Biden could not only reactivate the TPP, he would very likely place the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iranian Nuclear Deal and other multilateral and international treaties and organization that the Trump administration withdrew from in the past four years.


"Although Trump's unilateralism has made China receive higher expectations from other countries, and strengthened ties with them, including from some US allies, China still welcomes the US to return to multilateralism," Lü added.


If Biden wins and fixes the damage caused by Trump, China and the US could at least have more reasons to dialogue and cooperate, such as joint efforts to deal with climate change and solve the Iranian nuclear issue, Lü noted.


"The Trump administration's unilateral, selfish and hegemonic stances have left diplomats from the two countries almost nothing to talk about when they meet. Biden could at least change this awkward atmosphere," he said.


Diao stressed that China's policy toward the US is consistent regardless of changes in US political leadership. On one hand, "we should be positive and look at the potential change after the election, based on the attitude of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation with the US."


On the other hand, China should insist to its bottom-line mentality, and be aware which aspects of the competition and struggles with the US will continue, Diao noted.


Democrats more favorable?


The latest polls show that Biden is more likely to win the election, while Chinese experts said the Democrats are more united, and that Biden is more decent.


Li said the fact is that "most US voters do not care about a candidate's foreign policy. The two parties are trying to hype their foreign policies because they are related to domestic issues, such as jobs, the economy and the pandemic, or can distract attention from domestic issues."


Lü said the economy and the pandemic are topics US voters most care about. China is not the biggest problem for the US, but it's hard to predict how the next US president would view how cooperation with China would help the US economy and fight the virus.


"On the pandemic, China can provide supplies and cooperation on vaccine research. On the economy, some US elites support international cooperation, but some strategists believe that international cooperation is useless, and would insist on unilateralism and bullying others. It's unclear  which side would dominate," he said.


Although Trump is definitely a more troublesome figure than Biden, Chinese people still gain a lot from "Chuan Jianguo", such as solidarity of the society, people's confidence, a firm strategy of independent development, and the awakening to reexamine the West. "Chuan Jianguo" is a nickname Chinese netizens gave to Trump, which literally means "Trump builds China," suggesting that the US president's tough policies will only make China stronger instead of containing China.


Experts believe that if Trump wins, he will see that China will be tougher to deal with than the previous four years.


Diao Daming is a researcher of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.