For China, Biden more predictable than Trump, Sanders: experts

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/4 23:53:41

COVID-19 a pressure test of China-US decoupling, making US rethink

Democratic presidential hopeful former vice president Joe Biden (center) arrives on stage with his wife Jill Biden and sister Valerie Biden Owens for a Super Tuesday event in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

As Joe Biden dramatically beat Bernie Sanders in many states on Super Tuesday, Chinese experts said that the former US vice president is more "predictable and reasonable" in dealing with China-US relations compared with Sanders, who is against China radically in ideology, or Donald Trump, who has proved harmful to global free trade.

US media were shocked by the situation. "Joe Biden is the front-runner again after he shocked the world on Super Tuesday" is a headline on CNBC. 

Current results show that Biden has won nine states and is likely to take Maine, but Sanders has won three so far and was very likely to win California, according to the New York Times.

The Washington Post also said in a report that "Joe Biden is surging to become the moderate candidate who can challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders."

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "it seems like US voters who support Democrats are not as extreme, or far-left in other words, as we thought before."

Compared with Sanders and Trump, China is more familiar with Biden, as he is representing the US liberal pro-establishment elites, and he is not just predictable to China, but also to US allies.

If Biden can keep up this trend and win the presidential election eventually, "it could be good news to us," Lü said.

In May 2019, Biden said in an event in the US state of Iowa that "China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man," and "I mean, you know, they're [China] not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They're not competition for us," he added, NBC News reported. This made US conservative voices criticize him, saying that he is "downplaying China's threat." 

Lü said "for China, this is more acceptable than Sanders who is radically against China in ideology and Trump who deals with China in a great power competition approach."

However, treating China as a threat is becoming a common ground for both Democrats and Republicans, so it would be too optimistic to expect Biden to make a big change, as Democrats could be more hostile to China in terms of ideology and human rights issues, said Diao Daming, an associate professor and US studies expert at the Renmin University of China.

"Biden would use US influence to rebuild something like the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] to contain China without harming ties with US allies, so this might not be better than Trump's approach," Diao said.

Domestic and economic issues are more important than foreign policy at the primary stage, Lü noted. "Most middle-class voters are still calm and reasonable, as they found Sanders' policies to win support from young voters will burden national finance, and be too socialist and unrealistic."

Diao said Biden can even beat Sanders in Massachusetts with a clear advantage. This proved that he is not only attractive to middle-class voters above 40 years old but is also widely accepted among highly educated youth.

US Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Photo: AFP

 The global outbreak of the coronavirus would be a key element in the primaries and could also have a long-term impact on the presidential election, and experts noted that the virus could be a pressure test in terms of China-US decoupling and could at least make the US calm down in fear of the China threat theory.

"It is hard to say how the epidemic situation would be used by both sides, as Trump has power to deal with the problem and Democrats can just talk. At this stage, the impact on Trump's approval rate is limited," Diao told the Global Times.

But if the situation gets worse and people panic, Trump would be in trouble and Sanders will benefit from it as his policy on healthcare would be a hot topic and get more support.

If older voters are reluctant to go out and vote as they are vulnerable to the virus while the youth are still motivated, Sanders would get more votes, Diao noted.

Lü said no matter who wins, the epidemic offered China and the US a chance to test how it feels to be in a "fast decoupling relationship," and clearly the US is feeling pain as well, and this could make the US society and even radical anti-China politicians rethink China-US decoupling. 

Diao added that when China was hit by the virus and the US was not, some US elites might have been happy, but now the US is being seriously affected as well, and US elites might find cooperation and interdependence the correct choice rather than decoupling.

Newspaper headline: Biden ‘more predictable’ than Sanders

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

blog comments powered by Disqus