US election won’t dramatically alter Indo-Pacific strategy

US election won’t dramatically alter Indo-Pacific strategy

Trump and Biden hold virtually indistinguishable positions on the Indo-Pacific

No matter who wins the presidential election on Tuesday, the outcome is unlikely to impact the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, which is aimed at maintaining a rules-based and “free and open” region, in any significant way.

One reason is that growing Chinese assertiveness has hardened U.S. perceptions, with the latest survey by the Pew Research Center showing that negative American views of China have risen by nearly 20% since Donald Trump took office. This should not be interpreted as a Trump phenomenon, as other U.S. allies and partners are also down on China.

The reality is that China’s increasingly coercive activity throughout the Indo-Pacific region — most notably in the South and East China Seas as well as against Taiwan, Hong Kong, and now even India along their disputed border high in the Himalayas — speaks for itself.

Beijing’s initial lack of transparency and mishandling of COVID-19 has only magnified this downward spiral, with both Trump and Joe Biden trying to appear tough on China. According to the Pew Research Center, 84% of Americans believe China has mishandled the crisis, suggesting that distrust of Beijing will linger well beyond this election cycle.