BEIJING (AP) – Chinese leaders expect that if Washington wins the presidential election on November 3, Washington will clash with trade, technology and security. But any change is likely to occur in style, not substance, as frustrations with Beijing extend across the American political spectrum.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and their constituents seem disinclined to adopt a softer stance toward China, possibly escalating more conflict regardless of the outcome of the election.
US-Chinese relations have plummeted to their lowest levels in decades, amid controversies over the coronovirus epidemic, technology, trade, security, and espionage.
Despite discord on many other fronts, both sides are critical of Beijing’s trade record and stance towards religious and ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet and Xinjiang, where the ruling Communist Party detained Muslims in political re-education camps have taken.
The American public is equally negative. Two-thirds of people surveyed in March by the Pew Research Center had “unfavorable views” of China, which Pew began asking in 2005.
Derek Scissor of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said that if he tries to reduce complaints against Beijing, Biden will “survive”.
Chinese leaders remained calm about this election during the 2016 presidential race, when they favored Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He scorned Clinton for carrying out then President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, including pressuring Beijing for human rights. Trump’s public image of business success resonated with the Chinese public.
Chinese analysts say a Biden presidency could restore a more predictable relationship following the tremors of Trump’s tariff war and the setback of India and its Southeast Asian countries as a strategic rival, with which Beijing has a series of regional disputes .
Yu Wanli, a professor of international relations at the University of Beijing Language and Culture, said that at the very least, Biden’s policy would not be “emotional and funny like Trump.”
“Democrats appear less militant, so they can take more care to prevent limited military conflicts and pay more attention to crisis management communications with China,” said Xi Yinhong of Renmin University of Beijing, a country of international relations Is one of the most prominent scholars.
Obama’s vice president, Biden, leads the election in 2009-2017 but Trump may win if he attracts enough voters in Florida’s major states. Trump suffered a similar upset in 2016 when he lost the popular ballot but won enough states to secure the 270 votes needed in the election-winning electoral college.
US intelligence officials believe Chinese leaders do not want Trump to be re-elected, according to a statement by top counter-notification officer William Ivina. It did not accuse China of directly interfering in the election or attempting to support Biden.
Trump shook China’s leaders in 2018 by raising tariffs on Chinese exports in Beijing over complaints of theft or handing over technology to companies. The White House has lobbyed allies to exclude China’s first global tech brand Huawei from the next generation of telecommunications networks on security grounds. Huawei’s access to American components and technology was cut, leading to a decrease in its global sales.
Trump is trying to bar Chinese social media companies from the United States, fearing that they may collect too much personal information about Americans. The White House is pushing video service TickTock to sell its US operation and is trying to block companies from dealing with popular Chinese messaging service WeChat.
American companies and business partners have criticized Trump’s tariff war, which prompted Chinese retaliation that hurt American farmers and factory workers. But there are complaints that China steals technology and violates its market-opening commitments. Beijing tried to recruit France, Germany, South Korea and other governments as allies against Washington but all refused.
Michael Hirson of the Eurasia Group, a research firm, said in a report that “tariff increases on Chinese goods” would probably only be removed gradually under Biden.
Trump’s tariffs were imposed to encourage manufacturers to shift jobs to the United States, a longtime champion by Democrats.
Other governments are also curbing security grounds on their tech companies regarding China’s strategic ambitions.
This week, Swedish regulators banned phone carriers from using devices from Huawei and its smaller Chinese rival ZTE, to build a high-speed wireless network as one of China’s biggest threats to security officials.
In their debate, the presidential and vice presidential candidates have accused each other of being ineffective or not being sufficiently strict on China. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence accused Biden of giving China a free ride as Obama’s vice president. Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris called Trump’s trade war a failure.
Biden attempted to resume cooperation with Beijing on climate change, North Korea, Iran, and Coronavirus, Hirson wrote. But he said Biden would “face a broad American consensus that Trump’s former approach of overturning China has either failed or is not appropriate.”
More likely is a “more contentious ‘glove-off’ relationship” in which both sides struggle to avoid a crisis over Taiwan or the South China Sea, he said.
There are wide differences between US allies and Washington regarding Beijing’s military and strategic ambitions. US military officials say Beijing is a serious threat. That sentiment is unlikely to change under a new administration.
Robert Sutter, a Chinese political expert at George Washington University, said, “China is a problem for China because its administration will stop China on human rights, and its stated approach to working with allied countries could advance China. ” .
A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Elizabeth Economy says that Biden can reintroduce America’s global leadership in a way that pressures China on all its rhetoric on issues such as climate change and global health Will force
In 2016, Trump made mixed attacks on China’s trade record with praise for President Xi Jinping, who knows no boundaries as leader of the ruling party, chief of the military, and president. This raised hopes in Trump that Trump might be ready to do the deal.
Yu of Beijing’s University of Language and Culture said that some of the Chinese public are still in favor of Trump because he believes he will lead to China’s rise to global leadership by “taking America down the wrong path” Are facilitating.
Trump’s disinterest in human rights, criticism from NATO allies and disagreements with the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization are seen as a surrender of the American leadership.
Meanwhile, Trump’s handling of the coronovirus epidemic and American tensions over class and ethnicity, he says were “just gifts” for Xi’s government, the economy said.
American problems allow Xi to show China’s one-party system better than disorderly Western democracy. The fully state-controlled media ignores or dismisses complaints about the suppression of minority groups and other issues.
But still, Chinese nationalists believe that Trump is trying to block China’s rise as a global leader to its rightful position. And Beijing is disappointed by Trump’s sudden policy changes.
“A second Trump administration may be completely ineffective, but it is also likely to be unstable, and the Communist Party values stability too much,” Scissor said.
Chinese leaders may see Biden as more viable even if the issues do not change, said Jun Tuffel Dreyer, a Chinese politics expert at the University of Miami.
“Reversing the old cliché, they would prefer the devil that they do not know the devil they know.”