Biden’s China policy will not differ greatly from Trump - Expert | Eurasia Diary -

21 April, Wednesday

Biden’s China policy will not differ greatly from Trump - Expert

Biden has already made it clear that human rights and democracy will be at the centre of his foreign policy

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made remarks about the US-China relations when delivering a speech at the opening of the Lanting Forum in Beijing, with the theme of "Promoting Dialogue and Cooperation and Managing Differences: Bringing China-U.S. Relations Back to the Right Track."

In his speech, Wang Yi stressed the importance of mutual respect, enhanced dialogue and beneficial cooperation in order to bring about the normalisation of the US-China relations.

Foreign minister said China has no intention to challenge or replace the United States and stands ready to have peaceful coexistence and seek common development with the United States.

He called the United States to respect China’s sovereignty and security, as well as stop supporting the actions of separatist forces in China.

According to his opinion, the United States and China should coordinate policies in the areas of global security, climate change and world economy through bilateral dialogue.

Since Biden’s inauguration, the analysts from various sides have been making arguments on the prospects of the US-China relations.

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Speaking to Eurasia Diary, Ayaz Rzayev, a research fellow at the Topchubashov Centre, Baku-based think tank talked about the future of diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

- Please tell us, do you see possibilities for the normalisation of US-China relations in the post-Trump period?

- There is a broad consensus in the United States on the need for a tougher stance towards China. There is no reason to believe that just because Trump is gone, advocates of a hard-line approach will disappear. Biden’s China policy will not differ greatly from that of his predecessor. While Biden won’t be openly confrontational as Trump, and will tone down his anti-Beijing rhetoric, it is also clear that Biden will be tough on security issues involving China.

- Biden said in his speech that China is a challenge to global democracy and human rights. He also expressed his concerns about the violation of human rights by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong provinces of China. If Biden continues to keep a strong position in the issues of human rights and democracy, how will Washington deal with security issues with Beijing?

- Biden has already made it clear that human rights and democracy will be at the centre of his foreign policy. So, the Biden administration will continue to voice their concerns about human rights violations in China. At the same time, the Biden administration does not see this as something that necessarily precludes the U.S. from extending an invitation to China to cooperate on matters of mutual interest. They believe that the U.S. is more than capable to balance its values and its interests at the same time.

- What concessions could Washington and Beijing put together in the issue of stabilising the situation in the region of Asia-Pacific?

- When it comes to Asia-Pacific, the Biden administration wants to engage China from a position of strength, which entails, among other things, building strong alliances in the region. Since engagement is not appeasement, there won’t be any significant unilateral concessions. The U.S. strategy in Asia-Pacific under Biden will seek to have elements of stick, as well as carrot. However, it is always very hard to strike a right balance between deterrence and reassurance when designing such a policy. Only time will tell whether Biden’s China policy is a success or a failure.

- Do you see any opportunities for the US and China to work together in the arranging issues of Covid-19, climate change and world economic recovery in the near future?

- There are some areas of cooperation with China, especially on matters such as global health, pandemic, and climate change. However, even on those issues, there are still significant disagreements between the two sides. For instance, the United States wants an open and transparent international investigation led by the World Health Organization on the origins of the pandemic in Wuhan. In January, before the end of the Trump presidency, the State Department declassified materials that argued that already in the fall of 2019, there was an outbreak of Covid-like virus among scientists working in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Biden administration believes that China has so far fallen short of providing sufficient data about precisely where and how COVID-19 emerged. This is an important issue for the Biden administration and they want to get to the bottom of what went wrong. At the same time, they see China as unwilling to cooperate on this matter. These differences make it very hard for the two sides to cooperate even on issues where their interests could potentially converge, for instance, when it comes to fighting climate change.

By Yunis Abdullayev

Eurasia Diary

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