China expects a potential Joe Biden presidency to exercise a more predictable foreign policy strategy, but the goals may not differ much from the current animosity towards Beijing.
While Joe Biden’s campaign is pitching American voters a “return to normalcy” after the Trump era, few expect the same when it comes to US- China relations.
While the former vice-president is currently ahead in the polls, many pundits expect the race to tighten. China is likely to become one of the key foreign policy areas where the two candidates look to gain an edge by exploiting their rival’s perceived vulnerabilities.
Both Donald Trump and Biden once bragged about their connection to Chinese President Xi Jinping, but have markedly shifted their stance in the past few months, sparring fiercely over who will be tougher on the Communist Party.
With the future hanging in the balance, Beijing has dramatically toned down its nationalist rhetoric and largely stayed reticent about the upcoming elections.
According to former diplomats and observers, such uncharacteristic caution is revealing what Beijing thinks about the forthcoming elections – a make-or-break moment for US-China relations.
An enduring rivalry may seem inevitable as things settle into a more confrontational paradigm, spelling an end to the decades-long age of engagement. But Beijing appears hopeful that the 2020 elections could still open up the chance for a reset.
“Given the historical importance of the 2020 elections, there is a fleeting window of opportunity for both sides to climb down from the cold war-like confrontation, whoever wins the White House,” said Pang Zhongying, an international affairs specialist at Ocean University of China.
But given the uncertain outcome, and allegations by US intelligence that China has tried to interfere in the electoral process, Beijing is wary of being seen to favor one candidate over the other.