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After Trump’s exit China expects Biden to ease trade war, bond on Climate Change

After Donald Trump’s exit, US watchers in China expect President-elect Joe Biden to ease the trade war between the two countries and forge a joint front with Beijing in battling global pandemics as well as climate change.

A detailed article in the Chinese publication guancha.cn anticipates that Beijing-Washington ties would be re-booted on Biden’s watch. But it also concludes that the president-elect will continue to count on India as a pillar of the new administration’s more differentiated Indo-Pacific strategy, which would seek to avoid war. The Biden administration, at least rhetorically, will be tougher on China’s human rights record, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet.

In the future, the president-elect is likely to pursue a dual policy of competition and co-existence with China, the writeup concluded.

Citing US officials close to the Biden administration, the article opined that team-Biden was likely to pursue a policy somewhere between “engagement” with China and a “Cold War” as visualised by the far-right of the Republican party, which sought the collapse of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The publication pointed to a media interview with Biden, where the president-elect called China a "competitor" rather than an "enemy". “The ultimate goal of US diplomacy is to maintain U.S. global leadership,” the article observed. China in the past has proposed a G-2 formulation where China will remain in second position in a world led by the United States.

The commentary was emphatic in concluding that India and Japan would become the “dual pivots” of Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy. “Through the joint efforts of the three administrations of Bush, Obama, and Trump, India's strategic value in American diplomacy has become higher and higher. From the Obama era when the United States emphasized the “Asia-Pacific rebalancing” to the Trump era when it formulated the “Indo-Pacific strategy” and carefully

constructed the “four-nation alliance”, India’s importance in the United States’ Asia-Pacific strategic layout has been increasing. If the US’s past Asia-Pacific policy was centered on the “U.S.-Japan alliance,” then the future US presence in Asia will rely more on the dual pivots of India and Japan.”

Yet, unlike Trump, the Biden administration was expected to be softer on the trade war between the two countries. On the positive side, Beijing and Washington were also likely to collaborate with each other on global issues such as Climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, and global pandemic including the Covid-19 menace.

“There are many global problems in today's world, which cannot be solved without the concerted efforts of all countries to face them together. On the issue of climate change, China has always been very positive…The ‘progressives’ of the Democratic Party represented by (Bernie) Sanders, (Elizabeth) Warren and others are actively promoting the topic of climate change. In this regard, China and the United States have a lot of room for cooperation.”

On reviving of the Iran nuclear deal, exited by Trump, team-Biden was expected to seek China’s help to persuade Tehran to re-board the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), signed in 2015 by the Barack Obama administration.

In addition, the Biden administration is likely to abandon Trump’s "trade war" policy and restart Sino-US trade negotiations.

The article was emphatic on China and the US to work together, in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, which Trump had castigated as “China virus” and worse.

Containing the Covid-19 pandemic would be Biden’s top priority, the article said. “The top priority of all Biden's agenda is to deal with the new Corona epidemic. China and the United States have a lot of room for cooperation in this regard. When the first wave of the epidemic broke out in the United States, the blue states where the Democratic Party was located, such as California, Massachusetts, and New York, purchased anti-epidemic materials from China, and the non-governmental exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States have never been interrupted.”

“Although the United States will once again strengthen cooperation with Chinese companies and medical systems at the state and federal government levels, government-level cooperation still requires political communication and enhanced mutual trust."

The commentary anticipates that the United States will return to the World Health Organization—a platform where Beijing and Washington “may have a situation of cooperation and struggle in the WHO”. The United States will also gradually return to the World Trade Organization and re-join the Paris Climate agreement.

While the Chinese anticipate a new normal of mutual accommodation, premised on grudging cooperation and the competition will emerge under Biden, Beijing does anticipate that the new administration will queer the pitch about China’s human rights record in Tibet and Xinjiang. “Improving Sino-US relations may start from three directions: fighting the epidemic together, removing high tariffs, and restoring cultural exchanges.”