To those affected by US-China relations, this election is a nail-biter

To those affected by US-China relations, this election is a nail-biter

  • People who cannot vote but whose lives have changed because of White House policies are watching the race closely
  • But few believe a Biden victory would mean a complete reversal in anti-China sentiment

As voters in the United States prepare for the presidential election on November 3, the South China Morning Post is exploring the potential ramifications for China. The 10th part in the series looks at the race through the eyes of non-US citizens directly affected by deteriorating US-China relations. Read the entire series here.

If US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are to be believed, the upcoming presidential election is the most consequential in American history.And, as the country wrestles with existential concerns around systemic racism, the rising coronavirus death toll and associated economic downturn, voters overwhelmingly agree that November’s election “really matters”, according to a recent Pew survey.

But as the electorate prepares to choose whether to re-elect or shun an incumbent who has pledged to put “America first” and embraced isolationism over globalisation, the race is also being closely watched by non-voting stakeholders the world over. And few are watching more closely than those whose lives and livelihoods are wrapped up in the US-China relationship.

Ranging from sanctions against Chinese officials over human rights abuses and their handling of Hong Kong, to stand-offs over Chinese tech companies and restrictions against diplomats, a seemingly endless cascade of actions in recent weeks has seen bilateral relations fray to their most precarious in decades.

To many caught in the middle, the prospect of a new administration in January provides the possibility of a pause in the downward spiral of US-China relations and the accompanying disruption to their lives. Yet hopes for a complete reversal are low.

“Trump does have this scorched-earth policy in terms of the US-China relationship,” said Du Chen, a Chinese tech reporter currently stuck in Beijing who is trying to return to California’s Silicon Valley, where he lived and worked before the coronavirus pandemic.