Beijing — China is uneasy as the Trump-Biden rematch nears. Initial worries include candidates' strong statements on China during the campaign. That may destabilize recent U.S.-China gains.
The November election result. Beijing doesn't like either candidate. Biden has sought collaboration with China, but Beijing worries about his efforts to rally Indo-Pacific allies against China. It's also worried about his Taiwan policy after he frequently suggested U.S. forces would defend it against China.
With his isolationist foreign philosophy, Trump may be less likely to support Taiwan. Given his unpredictability and aggressive language on China, which he blames for the COVID-19 epidemic that plagued his reign, anything is possible. He might escalate a trade battle that has persisted since his administration.
“For China, no matter who won the U.S. presidential election, they would be two ‘bowls of poison’,” said Fudan University Shanghai international affairs professor Zhao Minghao. Relations have improved slightly, but tensions remain strong, especially over Taiwan. Who occupies the White House might affect U.S.-China ties and Asia-Pacific peace.
Zhao and other observers in both nations agree that Beijing may consider Biden as the lesser of two evils due to his stability over Trump's volatility, but they also note that the Chinese leadership agonizes about Biden's effectiveness in creating coalitions to challenge China.
“No matter who takes office, it will not change the overall direction of America’s strategic competition with China,” said Tsinghua University Center for International Security and Strategy fellow Sun Chenghao. China doesn't care who wins the presidential election since it's dealt with both candidates for four years.
Many Chinese social media users support Trump, seeing him as a businessman seeking a bargain and a disruptive force that challenges American democracy and global leadership for Beijing. The term Chuan Jianguo, or “Trump, the (Chinese) nation builder,” implied that Trump was assisting Beijing with his actions and words as president. Trump's recent claim that Taiwan stole the chip-making sector suggests that the billionaire may not protect the self-governed island Beijing considers Chinese territory.
Sun Yun, head of the China program at the Stimson Center in Washington, warned against Chinese nationalism that may offend government officials and elites. “With Trump, there is no floor to U.S.-China relations, and Trump poses great risks and uncertainties, including the possibility of a military conflict,” Sun added as China believed Trump would attack Taiwan to gain reelection in 2020.
“There might be some benefit associated with Trump's potential to damage alliances and partnerships, shaking the world's confidence in America's leadership, but the benefit for China will not be able to offset the even greater damage he would impose on the relationship with China,” she said.
China was furious when Trump received a call from Taiwan's president congratulating him on his 2016 election victory. Beijing forbids formal interaction between Taiwan and foreign governments. Relations looked to be improving in 2017, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida in April and hosted him for dinner at the Forbidden City in Beijing six months later.
STAY TURNED FOR DEVELOPMENT