Chinese public won’t be swayed by who sits in the White House
Published: Nov 10, 2020 09:53 PM

Joe Biden Photo: AFP

Browsing Western media, one could easily get the impression that one of their concerns is how the Chinese people view Joe Biden - do they welcome his election or not? 

From China's official stance, to a small Chinese restaurant in Beijing Biden visited in 2011 as then vice president, they did not let even one detail slip away, and tried to find a clue on how China would cope with the new US president, and whether China-US relations would ease or face deeper confrontations.

But I also wonder if these Western media outlets get the message from Chinese people's reaction to the US election - in terms of relations with the US, the Chinese have become mature. 

Such maturity comes from their recognition of the US system and understanding of their own country. The chaos during the US election made them see the pitfalls of US democracy as well as signs that the US is degrading in terms of the ability to solve social issues. The ineptitude of the US leadership in dealing with the raging COVID-19 pandemic exposes politicians' zero responsibility and putting personal interests above the people's. All these have reversed the Chinese people's illusions of the US.

By contrast, China has withstood the US-launched trade war. Trade remained the same. In fact, the country's foreign trade expanded 4.6 percent in October, and rose 1.1 percent in the first 10 months. The lives of most Chinese people were not affected by the trade war. But in the US, farmers up to Wall Street elites have become fed up with the trade war, and the US government is paying higher political costs for a feud with China. 

Trump's rule in the past four years has awakened Chinese people. It made the Chinese people understand that China must start to make up for its technological weaknesses. It also made the Chinese realize the ice-cold reality that the US will never accept China's rise and will resort to every possible means to suppress it - this is the US, no matter who is the president and no matter the personal style of the president.

Biden is also a hawk when it comes to deal with China, though his approach may be more tactical. The Trump administration has overly consumed the US hardline policy toward China. Biden's election may bring a new chance for the two countries to manage strategic distrust and engage in new competition, but the Chinese people have no fantasy of a China-US detente. Biden is expected to emphasize the differences in values and systems between China and the US. And as China develops further, the US will guard against China more - this has become the mature consensus reached by mainstream Chinese society. 

The Chinese people pay attention to the US presidential election because China-US relations are important to both countries, and have a profound impact on the world. But the Chinese people also view the election as an entertainment show, and certainly they won't be into the drama too much.