CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Biden should reciprocate Beijing’s goodwill on fixing ties as early as possible, analysts say
Trump unleashes ‘final madness’ toward China
Published: Dec 22, 2020 10:29 PM

US President-elect Joe Biden . Photo: VCG


It is less than a month to go for US President Donald Trump, yet he and his administration continue to ratchet up confrontations with China, with the latest targeting companies with possible military connections and hitting Chinese officials with new visa restrictions.

Yet the world is no longer surprised by Trump's "final madness" toward China. The question being asked right now is, what will Joe Biden do about China-US ties? 

The US government announced more hostile actions at Beijing on Monday with the Commerce Department releasing a list of 58 Chinese companies, with many in the aviation sector, that will be blocked from buying US technology, and the State Department announcing broader visa restrictions on Chinese officials, who the US accused of being involved in repressing religious practitioners, ethnic minority groups, dissidents and others.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, urged the US to stop what he called erroneous actions after the ordered restrictions on Chinese firms, and said that the US has weaponized visas against China, which severely interferes in China's internal affairs. China will take countermeasures against those responsible for hurting China, said Wang.

Chinese observers called Trump's crackdown on China "laying mines" for Biden, who is likely to inherit a heavily damaged China-US relationship, which makes it harder for Biden to seek cooperation and fix one of the most important bilateral ties in the world. 

But Biden seems blind to the hidden dangers. Since winning the election, he has rarely voiced positive signs to restore ties, or criticize Trump for his hostile Chinese policy. "Biden's silence was formed amid the growing anti-China atmosphere in both parties in the US, and he has to be careful not to allow Republicans to accuse him of being soft on China," Zhang Tengjun, assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. 

He added that China-US relations are not Biden's priority at this moment, since the US has descended into deep chaos due to its failure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It is also possible that Biden is considering making use of the "mines" Trump buried for him as leverage to up the ante, when negotiating with China in the future, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times, noting that such thoughts will lead to further damage to bilateral ties.

Chinese experts also pointed out that Biden cannot challenge Trump's policies toward China right now. "But if Biden wants to cooperate with China, he should voice out his disagreement on Trump and differentiate himself from Trump's policies on Beijing. Otherwise, with ties locked in deeper confrontation due to Trump's final madness, and the fact that Beijing has received no positive signal from Biden, it will be harder for the President-elect to fix the ties and seek cooperation with China," said Zhang.

"He is wasting the 'golden window' of saving a bilateral relationship that is at its lowest in decades," according to Zhang.

China has expressed goodwill on multiple occasions. The latest one was Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday, when he called on Beijing and Washington to return to dialogue. 

"We hope that we will expand cooperation and manage differences through dialogue," Wang said Friday in a video address to the Asia Society in New York. "It is important that US policies toward China return to objectivity and sustainability as soon as possible."

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said at the Global Times annual forum on December 5 that Chinese authorities have already started to fix China-US ties and "seize all opportunities to engage with Biden's team, or invite them to communicate, and the plans for negotiations are also well prepared."

"China has released enough sincerity in cooperation and wish for better ties. Now the ball is in Biden's court to show his plan for a healthier relationship," said Lü. He said that the President-elect needs to show China a clear blueprint which draws areas of cooperation, and how to make competition healthier.  


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