U.S. intelligence services indicated before the 2020 Biden-Trump matchup that China considered Trump “unpredictable” and opposed his reelection. China “considered but did not deploy” influence operations to influence the election, according to a months-later assessment.
Experts believe the Chinese will not tamper in the U.S. presidential election this year due to their unwillingness and lack of capability. They believe Beijing would try to denigrate U.S. democracy, exacerbate party friction, and erode electoral trust if it interferes.
Biden continued his predecessor's China strategy after election. Biden kept the tariffs, limited Chinese corporations' access to innovative technology, sanctioned Chinese leaders for human rights crimes, and restricted China-bound U.S. funds.
In 2022, Antony Blinken, Biden's secretary of state, declared China the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order.” After the U.S. shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon in early 2023, tensions rose anew. It took months of negotiation to get Biden and Xi to meet and make some small concessions and a promise to normalize relations.
Miles Yu, director of the Hudson Institute China center, said the U.S. has a bipartisan China strategy. He stated China's Communist Party has a new U.S. policy. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a black cat or a white cat, as long as it’s an American cat, it’s a bad cat,” Yu remarked, quoting Deng Xiaoping, who advocated market reforms regardless of ideology. However, other observers liked Biden's stability, which Beijing may welcome in handling already tense relations.
Shi Yinhong, Renmin University of China international relations professor, said Trump is unpredictable, nasty, and hard to know. Shi said Beijing may anticipate its relationship with Washington to stay the same if Biden is reelected, but Trump's agitation against China and possible severe changes may not be acceptable.
Wang Yiwei, head of Renmin University of China's Institute of International Affairs, said Beijing worries more about Trump's anti-globalization stance than Biden's global ties. Wang stated, “We don't expect any one of them would be better for China, but the key (for China) is to continue its opening and reforms, and high-quality development.”
Shi Sushi, a renowned Beijing pundit, said China can manage Trump, who wants to make a deal, better than Biden, who governs by ideals. “Biden’s toughness is something few Chinese understand,” Shi remarked. An establishment politician. He defends American principles. He uses ‘friends-circle diplomacy’ to unite the West against China. I may say that Biden is harder to handle.”
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