New US officials could bring back rational approach to relations with China: experts

By Chen Qingqing Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/23 23:40:17

File photo:Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken, reportedly the incoming secretary of state selected by US President-elect Joe Biden, and potential national security advisor Jake Sullivan appear to be "old faces," some Chinese experts said, and they are likely to take a more rational and pragmatic approach toward China given their past experience of handling foreign affairs. 

Biden is expected to announce his cabinet picks on Tuesday, which will push forward the presidential transition, according to US media reports. For secretary of state - who carries out the US president's foreign policies - he is expected to nominate Blinken, who was the deputy secretary of state under the Obama administration and is a veteran national security advisor, the reports said, citing people familiar with the matter. 

"Given his [Blinken's] previous rhetoric on China-related issues and his past experience, his stance is softer than that of the current administration, which is likely to create a positive environment for the China-US relationship," Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Blinken recently pledged to build stronger economic ties with the island of Taiwan and he said full decoupling from China was "unrealistic," in contrast to the approach from President Donald Trump. 

"He won't be as provocative as the Trump administration on some of the issues of concern, like the Taiwan question, but the Democrats may take the island as an example on ideological matters," Diao said. 

Blinken visited China in 2015 and 2016 while serving as deputy secretary of state. He also co-hosted the interim Strategic Security Dialogue with then Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui in 2016.

In spite of the changing geopolitical environment, the veteran US officials are expected to return to conventional Democratic approaches to foreign affairs, which would be much more predictable, some Chinese experts said. 

When Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was asked about the reported nomination of Blinken as secretary of state, he said the ministry would not "comment on the internal affairs of the US," at a routine press conference on Monday. However, Zhao also said that moving the China-US relationship steadily forward is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries and the expectations of the global community. 

China is willing to enhance communication with the US and expand cooperation while handling divergences.

With the extension of the legacy of the Obama administration on foreign affairs, Blinken, along with Biden's team on foreign affairs, will also lead the US back to engagement with Asia-Pacific. This could involve some of the tactics of Obama to "stir up some troubles" among China's neighboring countries, Li Haidong, professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"Compared to Trump's barbaric style of dealing with China, Biden will take a much more 'civilized' manner with a much more clever approach, but it won't change the nature of the longstanding rivalry between the two countries," Li said. 

The attitude of the Trump administration could be seen in the actions of Mike Pompeo, who some in the US media consider to the be the worst secretary of state ever. His ideological prejudice against China, and possible 2024 presidential election ambitions, motivate his constant anti-China moves and propaganda.

After the Trump administration, any adjustment toward more rational and balanced relations will be positive for bilateral ties. 

"It may also help to push forward communication through diplomatic channels," Diao said. 

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