By Finian Cunningham
July 31, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - Well, according to
the Trump campaign, Democrat rival Joe Biden is
the candidate whom Chinese leaders are rooting
for to win the presidential election in
November. “Beijing Biden” or “Sleepy Joe” would
be a gift to China, so it goes.
In turn, trying to out-hawk the Republican
incumbent, the Biden campaign paints Trump as
being “soft” on China and having been “played”
by Chinese counterparts over trade, the corona
pandemic and allegations about human rights.
Biden, the former vice president in the
previous Obama administrations, has
vowed to impose more sanctions on China over
allegations of rights violations. He claims to
be the one who will “stand up” to Beijing if he
is elected to the White House in three months’
Last week, Biden
declared he was “giving notice to the
Kremlin and others [China]” that if elected to
the presidency he would impose “substantial and
lasting costs” on those who allegedly interfere
in U.S. politics. That’s war talk based on
worthless intel propaganda.
asserts that no-one is tougher than him when
it comes to dealing with China (and Russia for
Given the Trump administration’s reckless
policy of ramping up hostility towards China in
recent months, that begs the question: how could
a future Biden administration begin to be even
more aggressive – short of going to war?
Relations between Washington and Beijing have
plummeted to their worst levels since the
historic detente initiated by President Richard
Nixon in the early 1970s. The precipitous
downward spiral has occurred under President
Trump’s watch. So, how exactly could a
prospective President Biden make the
relationship more adversarial?
The truth is both Trump and Biden are equally
vulnerable to domestic partisan
criticism about their respective dealings
with China. The belated high-handed approach
that both are trying to project is pockmarked
with risible hypocrisy.
The Trump campaign scores a valid point when
it recalls how former Vice President Biden
smooched and feted Chinese leaders with economic
opportunities in the American economy.
Likewise, Trump stands accused of lavishing
praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping while
ignoring the impending coronavirus pandemic
because Trump’s top priority was getting a trade
deal with China.
The fact that both American politicians have
U-turned with regard to China in such nasty
terms must leave the authorities in Beijing with
a deep sense of distrust in either of the
Biden at one time waxed lyrical about his
close relationship with Xi, but as his bid for
the presidency heated up, Biden stuck the
proverbial knife in the Chinese leader
calling him a “thug”.
For his part, Trump previously
referred to Xi as a “dear friend” while
dining him with “beautiful chocolate cake” at
his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, but his
administration has since slammed the Chinese
leader as “authoritarian”. Trump’s racist slurs
over the pandemic being “Kung Flu” and “Chinese
plague” must give President Xi pause for disgust
with the falseness.
At the end of day, can either of these
presidential candidates be trusted to pursue
principled U.S.-China relations going forward?
The toxic anti-China campaigning by both
indicates a level of puerile treachery which
foreshadows no possible return to any kind of
One distinction perhaps between Trump and
Biden is the latter is
promising to repair relations with Western
allies to form a united front against China. To
that end, a hawkish confrontational policy under
Biden may have more impact on U.S.-China
relations than under Trump. Trump has managed to
alienate European allies with his broadsides
over trade tariffs and NATO spending
commitments. Although Trump’s Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo has recently
urged “an alliance of democracies” to
confront China, that rallying call is likely to
fall on deaf ears with European allies irked by
Trump’s brash style. Biden on the other hand
could bring a more unified Western policy of
hostility towards Beijing (and Moscow) by
affecting a more appeasing attitude towards
Europe. In that way, Biden would be more
preferred by the Pentagon and foreign policy
establishment than Trump, just as Hillary
Clinton was in 2016.
However, it is doubtful that Beijing is
paying too much attention to what either
candidate is saying or posturing at. If both of
them can flip so much from talking softly to
shouting loud anti-China profanities then their
individual characters may be deemed malleable
and unscrupulous. Both have shown a shameless
streak in stoking anti-China bashing for
electioneering gain. Trump pulled that trick
last time out in 2016 when he railed against
China for “raping America” only for him to
discover “deep friendship” with Xi following
that election. Now he has reverted to hostility
out of self-serving calculation to whip up
anti-China sentiment among voters. And Biden is
apt to do the very same.
Forget about such fickle personalities when
it comes to reading U.S. policy towards China.
Beijing will be looking at the longer trajectory
of how U.S. policy turned towards a more
militarized approach with the “Pivot to Asia”
under the Obama-Biden administration in 2011.
Indicating how Deep State continuity transcends
Democrat or Republican occupants of the White
House, the next major indicator was in the
documents of 2017 and 2018 under Trump which
labelled China and Russia as “great power
rivals”. The American “ship of state”, it may be
concluded, is therefore set on a collision
course with both Beijing and Moscow in terms of
ramping up a confrontational agenda. Who sits in
the White House scarcely matters.
For Trump and Biden to trade barbs about
which one is “softer” on China or Russia is
irrelevant in the bigger picture of U.S.
imperialist ambitions for global dominance. The
logic of a waning American empire and the
concomitant inherent belligerence to compensate
for the perceived loss of U.S. global power are
the issues to follow, not whether Trump or Biden
clinch the dog-and-pony race to the White House.