According Life Weekly, during Trump’s term of office, Sino-US relations fell to freezing point. What will happen to Sino-US relations after Biden takes office?
How will Biden’s incoming office change Sino-US relations? It can be deduced from different perspectives in the short, medium and long term. Within different time cycles, Sino-US relations will have different trends.
On January 22, 2021 local time, in Washington, D.C., U.S. President Biden delivered a speech on the economic crisis and signed several executive orders.
In the short term, Sino-US relations will not change significantly immediately. The main reason is that at the beginning of Biden’s presidency, the most urgent task is to deal with the domestic affairs of the United States first.
The first is the coronavirus epidemic, which has taken the lives of more than 400,000 Americans, which is also the main reason for Trump’s election failure. Biden has promised to deal with the epidemic better than Trump during the campaign. After taking office, Biden dares not neglect it at all.
The second is the American economy. Before taking office, Biden had announced a $1.9 trillion massive economic stimulus plan to rescue the U.S. economy hit hard by the epidemic.
After Biden officially takes office, he needs to implement these stimulus plans one by one. Biden also proposed many economic reforms different from those of the Trump era, among which people pay attention to raising taxes on the rich. There were large-scale tax cuts introduced during the Trump era. How Biden overwhelmed the pressure to raise taxes on the rich is more challenging than Trump’s tax cuts.
Over the past four years, American society has suffered unprecedented division. Just before Biden took office, there were world-shocking riots in the U.S. Capitol.
In Biden’s inaugural speech, “Unity” became the core keyword. How to unite American society to the greatest extent is Biden’s number one task after taking office.
Compared with the turmoil in the United States, Sino-US relations, although very important, are not the top priority Biden needs to address immediately in the short term. Early in office, the Biden administration is likely to continue Trump’s China policy.
In the Sino-US economic and trade field, Trump has left two important “legacies” to the Biden administration.
The first is imposing high tariffs on $360 billion of goods from China, and Biden has said that he will not immediately lift the tariffs. The second is the first phase of the Sino-US economic and trade agreement signed in early 2020, which is still valid so far.
According to the agreement, from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, China will ensure that the procurement and import of manufactured products, agricultural products and services from the United States shall be expanded by no less than 200 billion US dollars. At the time, Trump claimed it was “the biggest deal anyone has ever seen”. Biden said he would maintain the agreement for the time being before he officially took office.
Recently, U.S. Treasury Secretary-designate Yellen also said that the implementation of the trade agreement would be reviewed. Over the past year, China has been trying to complete the agreement, but under the impact of the epidemic, it is still a certain challenge to complete the full purchase of $200 billion by the end of this year. If Biden continues to maintain the validity of the agreement, China will face greater procurement pressure this year.
After smoothing out the domestic affairs of the United States, the Biden administration can start to focus more on Sino-US relations.
Biden will gradually get rid of Trump’s shadow and inject more ideas into its policy towards China. Sino-US relations will truly start a new round of games.
In the economic and trade field, Biden will not use the tariff stick as his main weapon like Trump. Biden believes that high tariffs are actually a tax increase for American companies and consumers, so he may give in to high tariffs, but Biden has repeatedly stressed that he will unite allies against China, which is the biggest difference between Biden and Trump.
On Biden’s inauguration, European allies who had been hurt by Trump expressed a very positive welcome attitude, and European Commission President von der Leyen said that “after four years, Europe has another friend in the White House”. This may reflect the general mentality in Europe. If Biden is willing to join hands again, the United States and Europe may return to honeymoon.
Trump pursues the “America First” strategy and exerts great pressure on China, but he is also fading away from traditional allies such as Europe. During Trump’s last term, China also reached a China-EU investment agreement negotiation with the European Union.
If Biden embraces Europe again, the China-EU investment agreement will also face certain variables.
So for China, only time can give the real answer whether Trump’s tariff stick is more lethal, or Biden’s containment strategy is more lethal.
Compared with Trump, Biden used to be a friendly person to China, but after becoming president, Biden’s policy towards China will be subject to many restrictions.
If he leaves a weak image of China, it will affect Biden’s ability to govern in the United States.
In 2022, the United States will usher in a midterm election. Although it is less important than the presidential election, it will have a significant impact on the Biden administration in the coming years.
Earlier this year, Democrats became the majority party in the Senate, the first time since 2008, that Democrats have controlled both the White House and Congress, making a great start to Biden’s administration.
However, this does not mean that the Biden administration can rest assured that the 2022 midterm election will be a chance for Republicans to counterattack.
For the Biden administration, if they appear too friendly to China in the first two years of office, the Republican Party may fight back strongly in the 2022 midterm elections.
As long as the Republicans regain one of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Biden will become the president of the lame duck for the remainder of his term, and his governance ability will be hindered everywhere.
In addition to the midterm elections two years later, Biden will consider the presidential election four years later.
After the riots in the U.S. Capitol, during the last few days of Trump’s term, the U.S. House of Representatives will insist on impeaching Trump, the main purpose of which is to convict Trump. In four years, Trump will lose the opportunity to run for president again.
Only in this way can Trump’s political life be completely ended. However, if the impeachment fails in the end, Trump still has the possibility of making a comeback.
If Biden can be successfully re-elected in four years, Sino-US relations may usher in a short-term chance of relaxation.
Without campaign pressure, Biden can cooperate with China at more levels, such as climate change, North Korea nuclear issue, etc., Sino-US economic and trade frictions will be relaxed, and Sino-US relations can return to a relatively normal state.
However, four years later, there is another possibility for the development of the plot. If Biden’s performance disappoints American voters, Trump may make a comeback.