Source: Global Times Published: 2020-11-10
Editor's Note:After a tension-filled and tumultuous 2020 US presidential election, Americans have chosen Joe Biden to become the 46th president of the US. Where is the China-US relationship headed in the years to come? What will be the possibility of an outbreak of a new cold war between Beijing and Washington during Biden's presidency? Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY) jointly held a Webinar with the No Cold War campaign and Tricontinental Institute for Social Research themed "the Future of China-US relations" and discussed these issues on Saturday.
Professor and executive dean of RDCY
The 2020 US presidential election is settled. We can see that the China card, played by the two presidential candidates during their campaigns, did not work well for their elections. This was especially the case for Trump, who tried hard to divert voters' attention from his failures to fight COVID-19 by smearing China. However, China did not fall for it. Instead of engaging in a fierce battle with the US, China exercised restraint and was unwilling to draw the spotlight of US public opinion. The US has too many domestic problems and playing the China card can hardly cover up these problems. This fully demonstrates that this election tactic failed.
Frictions between China and the US will become the new normal in the next decade or more, a normal that I would call "co-opetition," cooperative competition. For that, China is well prepared psychologically. China can understand US anxieties that come with a speculation that China will replace its leadership in the world. But in fact, China has been a strong supporter of the post-World War II international order led by the US. During the global financial crisis in 2008 and the pandemic in 2020, the US situation would be even worse without China's support. In the past eight months, for example, China has exported nearly 40 billion masks to the US. China is not afraid of the US, but wants to ease the US anxiety with its pragmatic actions.
Senior fellow at RDCY and a member of the No Cold War organising committee
I would like to be able to say that with the defeat of Trump in the US presidential election the organization No Cold War can now disband - as the cold war will come to an end. But, unfortunately, that would be inaccurate. Regrettably forces in the US committed to a cold war strongly exist in the Democratic Party as well as in the Republican Party. A Biden administration differs from Trump primarily in the tactics for pursuing aggression against China - a difference on how to pursue an aggressive policy against China, not on whether to attack China.
Biden will almost certainly switch back to the "broad anti-China alliance" strategy of former US president Barack Obama - as Biden, as vice president, was a key part of the administration which launched this policy. Therefore, an aggressive US policy toward China will continue - but with different tactics.
It is clear how China will deal with this situation. It will not pursue any aggressive policy toward the US under Biden, just as it did not under Trump. China will concentrate on its own development - while welcoming any steps by the US to reduce tensions. This is very clear in the new five-year plan - which does not focus on the US at all but on the development of a high income China economy. But, for the reasons outlined, this will not stop the US pursuing an aggressive policy towards China.
Editor and senior columnist at US-based website Black Agenda Report
The change in presidential administrations brings with it inevitable questions about policy changes that will impact the rest of the world. Change is desperately needed in the wake of the many disasters that President Trump and his foreign policy team have wrought. But there is more consensus than there is difference among the duopoly in the US. There is a bipartisan, pro-war orientation that continues uninterrupted and I believe we will see this dynamic play out again.
Imperialism is bipartisan and it also has a revolving door of people who were Obama administration officials who are now advising Biden and will no doubt accompany him back to the White House, State Department and Pentagon. They pen essays in Foreign Affairs magazine calling for China to change in some way that America would like.
Biden will surely bring Obama holdovers from their holding places at think tanks and universities. They will probably be more polished than secretary of state Mike Pompeo who thinks that "maximum pressure" and boorish insults will win the day. But style is not what counts.
The hedge fund chieftains who invest in the military and in the presidency are calling the shots. They don't give money without anticipating that they will also have influence. They don't build planes, helicopters and battle ships for show. Ultimately, they build them to be used and that is never good news.
It is rare for the acts of one administration to be undone by the next. Dangerous policies continue because they are all on the same page. We can only hope that China's leaders and leaders of other countries targeted and smeared have better judgment than their American counterparts.
Professor at the Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Canada
The protracted agony into which the 2020 Presidential Elections have thrown US society, politics and its economy is merely another milestone in the decades-long unravelling of the US' neoliberal, financialized capitalism and in the consequent decline of its world influence.
Elections 2020 are only further deepening the crisis of governability that led to Trump's election in the first place. Civil War remains a lurid fear rather than a realistic possibility. This sort of US will alternate between being preoccupied with its internal problems and being internationally provocative to distract attention from them.
Like the old Cold War, it is already generating pressures on other countries to line up along one or the other side. As this happens, it is clear that only the most roguish regimes, India or Brazil come most readily to mind, will line up alongside the US. The only thing China can do is to remain open to reasonable dialogue, befriend the wiser elements of US and allied societies and focus its attention on countries and forces with which it can cooperate in mutually beneficial development. Given the glaring contrasts between a chaotic US and a stably rising China, there will be many of them.
Emeritus professor of Social Sciences at Paisley University, UK
A Biden victory will change the new cold war. But it won't stop it. The US approach is likely to become more sophisticated, comprehensive and dangerous.
Biden is rooted in the US State Department establishment - under Bill Clinton in the 1990s and Barack Obama in the last decade. He was a hawk under Clinton pushing for NATO intervention in the Balkans. He was a hawk under Obama - closely involved with Victoria Nuland in planning the coup in Ukraine and then pushing unsuccessfully for NATO retaliation on Crimea. He is today a hawk on China: seeing China in highly ideological terms as a "totalitarian" challenge. But his approach will be more sophisticated, ideological and long-term than Trump's - and in particular seek to base it within wider alliances.
The threat from a new cold war on Biden's terms cannot be minimized. Its expectations and character make in some ways more dangerous than Trump's. Economic parity between the US and China will be reached sooner. The consequential effects on dollar primacy will now be seen within the current decade.
A collective of diaspora Chinese challenging US aggression on China
As Chinese Americans, we live in a country that promises "liberty and justice for all." But it is becoming more and more clearer that that trust is misplaced, and has been grossly betrayed throughout the years. One needs only to look at the history of our time here, from the very early days, to see that this is the case.
For instance, real wages have stagnated in this country for the average American for 40, 50 years, and we Chinese Americans are largely such average Americans. In fact, Asian Americans are one of the groups hardest hit by unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Make no mistake, this is a new McCarthyism, a new age of injustice. It was coming regardless of who wins this election. We don't see the character of the US changing anytime soon, since history teaches us that we have always been its enemies, either to be crushed and killed or to be used and exploited. The only time Chinese people are "accepted" by the US is when they act as its mouthpieces, praising its supposed freedom and superior political system, validating criticisms and attacks against China.
The audience is surely familiar with these types of Chinese diasporas. But please know that these people, loud as they might be perched on the platform given to them, do not represent the working Chinese American: those who labor long and hard hours at low-paying jobs, live in poor housing and downtrodden environments, and constantly face state violence.
Executive Director, Tricontinental Institute for Social Research (India), Senior Fellow of RDCY
Liberal commentators say that Biden will be more "internationalist" or more "multilateral." Evidence for this that is offered is Biden's pledge to return the US to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or the Iran deal) and the 2016 Paris Agreement. The US will not come back here to develop a multilateral process. This is entirely premised on Biden's priority to rebuild and consolidate the North Atlantic or Western alliance system, which has been eroded by Trump's attack on European underfunding of NATO, by his withdrawal from the Iran deal and for the climate deal.
Biden returns here as a show of faith; let's be clear that the US - under Obama - did not enter these deals to advance a multilateral process. The US entered the Iranian deal because the Europeans were desperate for a source of energy after the US destroyed access to Libyan oil after NATO's 2011 war and to Russian natural gas with the Ukraine conflict in 2014. Obama agreed to the Iran deal because the Europeans were desperate, not to line up with the demands of international law; Biden will give the Europeans this gift. On climate, the US watered down Paris, but will return to the table only to give the appearance of multilateralism. The fact is that Biden will want to strengthen and subordinate Europe so as to better confront China.
A Biden presidency will not calm the cold war.
Claudia De la Cruz
The People's Forum in NYC
Neither party will advance the class struggle. Neither of the two political wings of the US bourgeoisie offers a change to its policy against Venezuela, Cuba, China, Iran - to name a few. And it does not offer a material change to the reality of the majority of people in the US.
Some of the key questions in this context are, how will we coordinate our efforts, and organize ourselves so that we are not the end tail of the democrat's anti-Trump coalition? And how will we accumulate the people power to respond to this moment as social movements and advance the class struggle in this critical stage?
As social movements, we must maintain, that the only route to any structural change in the US will come through the unity of social movements and its leaders, the creation of a strong mass organization and political organization independent of the bourgeoisie political machine. This is our big challenge!
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