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Both Mr Trump and Joe Biden have ramped up their anti-Beijing rhetoric in the lead up to the the November 3 election. Now Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington, has said China’s leaders will be unhappy with both candidates winning. It comes after Republicans have voiced their concerns Mr Biden will be too soft on China.
Mr Luft argued neither Mr Biden or Mr Trump’s presidency would be a win for Beijing.
Mr Trump’s hardline stance and aggressive actions against Beijing have made him an obvious poor choice for China.
But Mr Luft has pointed out the Democrat nominee for president is unlikely to return to an engagement police with China due to recent clashes between Washington and Beijing.
This is because of negative perceptions of China across the US, and despite Mr Biden’s time as vice president seeing him forge closer relations with Beijing.
Recent polling from the Pew Research Centre in July showed 73 percent of Americans hold unfavourable views of China.
But while Mr Biden will likely be firm on China, Mr Luft suggested the Democrat is the best choice out of two negatives for Beijing.
He added: “For Beijing the choice is between detente and war, and Biden is more likely to offer the former.”
Mr Luft added Mr Biden’s winning the presidency would be “an opportunity for the two sides to turn a new leaf, to revive the frank strategic dialogue and to dislodge US foreign policy from the China psychosis from which it has been suffering under Trump”.
George Magnus, associate at Oxford University’s China Centre, added Beijing is expecting US policy on Beijing to stay tough regardless of Mr Trump or Mr Biden’s presidency.
He added: “I don’t think America’s China policies will be materially different if Biden wins.
“The systemic nature of the adversarial relationship means that individuals may manage things differently but will almost certainly not alter the trajectory.”
Mr Magnus went on to say it was “wishful thinking” that Mr Biden could take things back to the status quo before Mr Trump’s presidency.
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It comes as foreign policy on China has become a central issue to the US election, after a series of crises including the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump skewered his Democrat rival for being weak on China at the final night of the Republican National Convention.
He said: “Joe Biden’s agenda is ‘Made in China’. My agenda is ‘Made in the USA’.”
Mr Biden, while only mentioning China once during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, has repeatedly condemned the incumbent president for being “weak” on China.
Experts have noted Mr Biden’s harder stance on China is surprising due to his previous links to it’s leader Xi Jinping.
Mr Biden was once described by Mr Xi as “my old friend”, and was an early supporter of an engagement policy between the US and China.
He was also one of the first US senators to visit China, and met the countries late leader Deng Xiaoping in April 1979.
Mr Biden told a Council on Foreign Relations Event in 2018 he had “spent more time in private meetings with Xi Jinping than any world leader”.
Robert Sutter, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, called the Democrat candidates hardening on China “remarkable”.
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