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Can Sino-US ties be fixed during Biden term?

China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-26 07:30
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Editor's Note: More than three weeks after presidential election, the US General Services Administration has "ascertained" that Joe Biden is the winner. Can Sino-US ties improve under Biden's presidency? Four experts share their views on the issue with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

More opportunities for cooperation

Joe Biden will try to return normalcy to the United States, and is likely to promote multilateralism, rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, and even try to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Such efforts will create more opportunities for China-US cooperation and collaboration to meet global challenges.

The trade war is likely to ease, as Biden has said he will scrap or re-evaluate the tariffs Trump has imposed on Chinese goods. But there may be limits to how much Biden can do to lift the tech sector's restrictions.

Biden may also restore some China-US exchange mechanisms, hopefully, including the military-to-military exchanges that are so important for the two sides to prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations, and avoid accidents.
How fast and to what extent these changes will happen remain to be seen, as Biden's hands will likely be tied by many pressing domestic issues and global challenges.

The competition factor in China-US relations has increased and the Trump administration has left no stone unturned in the past almost four years to poison bilateral ties.

In the face of new challenges, China and the US should use Biden's presidency to ensure bilateral relations improve, and the two sides work for betterment of both countries and the world.

Chen Weihua, chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels

Biden policy toward China may be more reasonable

The Biden presidency will usher in a more harmonious trilateral unity between China, as the head of Asia, and the United States and the European Union on multilateralism. Which will be a welcome relief for the global economy.

Knowing that China is essential for its post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding, Europe may bargain with the US to lift the sanctions on China, even though it is taking a tougher and more demanding stance vis-à-vis China in foreign investment and trade policies. All economies need to negotiate at the diplomatic table in these fast changing times and refresh their agreements for a collaborative future together.

It should be noted that in this scenario, China is not trying to export its own culture, governance model or ideology to the world. It is increasing its influence across the world mostly by strengthening bilateral and regional ties.

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both have been on a divisive campaign, spreading hatred against China. That is one of the most atrocious policy blunders that will be missed by no one.

Although the Biden presidency could be just as tough policy-wise toward China, in virtually every other way, he will hopefully move away from the ugliest, most divisive messaging and diplomacy to have ever come out of the White House and State Department in decades.

Mario Cavolo, a senior fellow at the Beijingbased Center for China and Globalization

Sino-US cooperation is likely to increase

It is heartening to see a four-year national and international nightmare ending, not least because more than four decades of bilateral goodwill was nearly destroyed by one man.

Under the Biden presidency, Sino-US relations will not be perfect but they will be well thought out and business-like.

The US and China can resume bilateral dialogues on a wide range of issues including trade, defense and cybersecurity.

As Tony Blinken, one of Biden's top advisers (and his pick for the next Secretary of State), said, the two countries will be in competition but hopefully in a race to the top, not to the bottom. The prior bilateral collaborations on climate change could also resume.

Besides, the pressing issues that will confront China and the US will be the South China Sea issue, the Taiwan question, cybersecurity, weapon proliferation, and coping with future pandemics by preparing for them in advance.

Harvey Dzodin, a senior fellow at Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization

Biden has a lot to do to bring US back on track

The Biden administration has to deal with a lot of challenges ahead. Domestically, the US economic agenda needs to be reset with the focus on containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internationally, Biden faces more problems. Trump has alienated the US even from many of its allies in NATO, Europe and Asia, such as France and Japan. Fixing the problems will not be easy for Biden, because the US has lost the trust of many countries.

Sino-US relations will hopefully improve. Because of the withdrawal of the US from several international mechanisms during Trump's presidency, Biden will find it difficult to regain the US' global leadership.

If Biden tries to restore the US' membership in multilateral organizations and global accords such as the Paris Agreement and COVAX, coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to get rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the US and China can work in cooperation.

But Beijing still needs to approach Sino-US relations carefully. Biden changed his views and took a tougher stance against China during his election campaign, which was more than a campaign strategy. The US president-elect is very likely to resume cooperation with China while making efforts to subdue it.

As for Sino-US decoupling, it will be impossible because bilateral economic and trade ties are too closely interlinked to be severed completely.

Washington and Beijing will negotiate more deals that better balance the two countries' interests unlike the unilateral demands Trump made.

Shen Dingli, a professor at and former executive dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

If you have a specific expertise and would like to contribute to China Daily, please contact us at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn.

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