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A Biden Win Could Stabilise Sino-American Relations – Experts

A win by Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris in November would likely not change America’s tough line toward China, but the tone would soften and the U.S. would seek more allies against Beijing, according a panel of experts at an FCC webinar.

The three August 12 panelists – political scientist Mary E. Gallagher, journalist Lingling Wei and Asia expert Bonnie Glaser – all agreed that although presidential hopeful Biden was unlikely to dramatically change some policies if he were elected, his administration could move to stabilise the frail relationship.

The three were speaking the day after Biden announced Senator Kamala D. Harris as his running mate. She is the first Black woman and the first Asian American to appear on a major-party presidential ticket.

Relations between the United States and China have soured since President Donald Trump took office, resulting in a trade war, tit-for-tat expulsions of journalists, and more recently, sanctions over the new national security law in Hong Kong.

Wei, an award-winning correspondent for the Wall Street Journal who herself became a casualty of the deteriorating relations when she was expelled from China earlier this year along with colleagues, warned that Trump’s final days in office posed a major threat to relations with China.

“I think Beijing welcomes a Biden administration. The next 90 days… are going to be the most dangerous time for China,” said Wei, the co-author of a book on Sino-U.S. relations, Superpower Showdown. “The South China Morning Post story about Xi Jinping instructing the Chinese military not to fire the first shot, I think that’s really a sign of how nervous the leadership is about this whole relationship completely getting out of control. They’re trying very hard to show restraint.”

Gallagher, a professor at The University of Michigan, has been director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies since 2008, said: “I think it’s a super exciting ticket and I love that a black Jamaican Asian child of immigrants is the safe choice for Joe Biden. One thing that will be different and I would certainly advise is to stop thinking about China as the Soviet Union. It is nothing like the Soviet Union, it is not going to disappear. When we talk about the Cold War, it ended when the Soviet Union disappeared. China is not going to disappear.”

She added that she would advise the Biden administration to “stand up to China on human rights issues and freedom of expression and freedom of speech”.

Biden would not be seen “on a daily basis hammering China” in the way that Trump has, said Glaser, adding that a sustained dialogue mechanism would likely be restructured under Biden in an “effort to resurrect some cooperation with China”.

Echoing Wei’s warning over the run-up to the November election, Glaser said that U.S. pressure on China would increase now that Trump has declared he no longer has a good relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Now he’s really taken the gloves off, and this has enabled other people in the administration to do things, for example, regarding Xinjiang and Hong Kong that the president was not on board with when the trade negotiations were going on. In that period, we’re going to see a lot more ramping up of pressure,” she predicted.

You can watch the video here

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