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China takes a look at the incoming Biden administration

(ATF) Chinese officials and academics appear to envisage warmer ties with the US once Joe Biden is appointed president. Sino-US relations are probably the worst they’ve been in more than two decades, but some believe his choice of key cabinet personnel such as Tony Blinken will lead to an eventual thaw in bilateral ties.

This comes at a time when senior US security officials said, on Wednesday, that more than 1,000 researchers from China have left the United States amid the US crackdown on alleged technology theft.

Officials also claimed Chinese agents had targeted the incoming Biden administration, according to the Peoples’ Daily.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday (Dec 3) that the US remarks were “very ridiculous,” and added “in the eyes of some people in the United States, they see only hatred, division and confrontation wherever they look.”

Speaking at a regular press conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Hua Chunying also said that for some time the United States had adopted various acts of political suppression out of strong ideological prejudice and that it uses malicious strategies to suppress China. These included the desire to cut off national exchanges between China and the United States. Sino-US cooperation in the fields of science, technology and culture had been greatly affected for some time, Hua said.

And recently, the US had taken intimidating actions against Chinese students and people friendly to China, she said. The relevant US agencies even ordered some agencies to report Chinese espionage on a regular basis.

“It is conceivable that such an absurd presumption of guilt, such a narrow and extremely abnormal mentality, will definitely lead the US to take irrational political actions,” Hua said, of the outgoing US administration.

On the other hand, China has a long history of expelling US journalists, and both countries militaries play chicken in China’s coastal waters and beyond.

The shadow of Obama

Meanwhile, academic Zhou Qin Shuo wrote a 4,000-word opinion piece for the paper.cn on individuals selected by Biden for his cabinet. Zhou felt the people he picked were all from or closely related to the former Obama administration.

“However, for many people who still have deep memories of the financial crisis [in 2008-09], ‘the shadow of Obama’ is not a good thing. Although Obama is now advertised as the person who rescued the economy from the quagmire, insufficient fiscal stimulus .. also led to an extremely slow economic recovery,” Zhou wrote, with a deft twist of the knife.

As Biden will be inheriting economic woes brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, Zhou believes Obama-style “austerity” to pay back the huge public debts built up in 2020 will not be helpful and will lead to long-term stagnation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that global public debt is likely to hit a record high this year, at nearly 100% of global GDP. The total scale of government crisis-response measures has reached an astonishing $12 trillion globally. In the future, the ratio of global public debt to GDP will rise further, and it is not expected to drop much until 2025.

“However, unlike the prescription prescribed 10 years ago, the IMF believes that most advanced economies that can borrow freely, will not need to plan to implement austerity policies to restore public financial health after the epidemic is over. This is because ultra-low interest rates reduce repayment. The cost of debt, the subsequent economic recovery will also increase the denominator and reduce the debt ratio. The current key is still to save lives and livelihoods. After all, the corona epidemic is different from the 2008 financial crisis. This time it is completely an external shock. All walks of life still believe that with vaccines gradually being put in place, an economic recovery next year will still be the main line,” Zhou wrote.

On the diplomatic front, Biden has called many world leaders but has yet to call Taiwan, whose president was the first call accepted by incumbent President Trump. Chinese opposition groups abroad are dismayed at the possibility that a Biden administration might seek rapprochement with China.

That is seen as likely given Biden’s choice of Tony Blinken to be his Secretary of State. Blinken is reportedly in favour of the US joining trade alliances with China.

Biden has also picked several staff from the consultancy of Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, whose main activity since leaving public office is running the Albright Stonebridge Group, which has strong ties to Beijing.

Compared to the current aggressive US stance against China, it seems almost inevitable that the Biden regime will have a softer touch in its relationship with China.


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Chris Gill

With over 30 years reporting on China, Gill offers a daily digest of what is happening in the PRC.


AF China Bond