Four more years? Why China wants Trump re-elected in 2020 polls
June 17, 2020 @ 20:05 +03:00
Donald Trump has argued frequently of late that China is rooting for Joe Biden come November’s U.S. presidential election. In Beijing, however, officials have come around to support four more years of Trump.
Interviews with nine current and former Chinese officials point to a shift in sentiment in favor of the sitting president, even though he has spent much of the past four years blaming Beijing for everything from U.S. trade imbalances to Covid-19. The chief reason? A belief that the benefit of the erosion of America’s postwar alliance network would outweigh any damage to China from continued trade disputes and geopolitical instability.
While the officials shared concerns that U.S.-China tensions would rise regardless of who was in the White House, they broke largely into camps of those who emphasized geopolitical gains and those who were concerned about trade ties. Biden, the former vice president, was viewed as a traditional Democrat who would seek to shore up the U.S.’s tattered multilateral relationships and tamp down trade frictions.
“If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances,” said Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and former deputy representative in Geneva. Four current officials echoed that sentiment, saying many in the Chinese government believed a Trump victory could help Beijing by weakening what they saw as Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence.
The general assumption underlying their views was that little could be done to halt the slide in relations between the world’s two biggest economies. Thus, China needed to accelerate efforts to develop high-end indigenous industries, expand into developing markets and look for opportunities to work with nations in Europe and Asia to counter any U.S. isolation efforts.
Over the course of Trump’s term, the realization has taken hold in Beijing that opposition to China enjoys deep bipartisan support in an otherwise-polarized Washington. The coronavirus outbreak, which was first discovered in the country’s central city of Wuhan, has only hardened American views toward Beijing.
Although Chinese officials continue to steer clear of criticizing Trump directly, Internet censors have allowed more nationalistic-tinged criticism of the U.S. to circulate online. One foreign diplomat said China’s foreign ministry was “combative” and “angry” toward U.S. officials.
Both sides may find it difficult to escape the pattern of confrontation no matter who wins. Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou is still detained in Canada awaiting a decision on a U.S. extradition request, while Beijing’s plan to impose a security law on Hong Kong has caused outrage in Congress and brought the countries’ “phase one” trade deal into question.
“Nowadays in China people are becoming more and more clear about the U.S.’s objectives,” said Zhou, the former Chinese representative in Geneva. “We have not yet reached the darkest hour in the relationship.”
Four more years? Why China wants Trump re-elected in 2020 polls, Aljazeera, Jun 17