People in Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong generally support the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States because Trump’s policies towards Communist China have made it unnecessary for neighbouring countries to appease China. Who’s anti-Communist China, Trump or Biden?
Human Rights and Trade Talks
Trump was initially unlikely to interrogate Communist China due to his transactional approach to human rights abuses. Although, Trump likely believed a trade deal with China would aid his chances of re-election.
Trump Says He Avoided Punishing China Over Uyghur Camps to Protect Trade Talks’: Trump failed to address China’s mass detention of Muslim Uyghurs and lending US support to Hong Kong because, “Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal,” the president said.
Trump has spent his presidency fairly quiet in terms of interrogating China but has pivoted over the summer where he spoke of sanctions for Chinese officials in regards to the human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims.
Trump boasted of his $200 billion trade deal with China. However, the latest data suggests that China’s purchases of US goods is not on track to meet the target for September 2020. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Chinese exports of US goods are lower than before Trump began his bombardment of US tariffs on Chinese products in 2018. This may be an additional factor in why Trump eventually spoke out against China.
The pivot in Trump’s attitude towards China was solidified by a statement from The White House, released two days ago: “Now, under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is taking action to protect our nation and its partners from an increasingly assertive China. We are no longer turning a blind eye to the People’s Republic of China’s conduct nor are we hiding our criticism of its Communist Party behind closed doors.”
The White House statement gives the impression that Trump’s re-election team are working to make the 2020 race about who, Biden or Trump, will be tougher on China in the new stretch of Presidency.
In calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Flu” or the “Chinese Virus”, Trump further attached his campaign to the increasing animosity towards China among his supporters.
COVID-19 crashing the previously steady US economy has likely been the source of his criticism of China in recent months, meanwhile the implication being that China will surpass the US as the world’s top economy.
Biden has been more likely to verbally condemn China’s human rights abuses, however, his statements suggest he would implore other states to condemn China’s actions. On CNBC, Biden said, “We should be calling the rest of the world to condemn their actions, criticizing Trump for a ‘silence’ on human rights issues the former vice president said was devastating for people around the world.”
Biden will have a more collaborative approach to interrogating China. By working with allies to pressure China into working with them on issues regarding pandemic response, trading, and climate change.
Biden called for economic sanctions for China. However, Trump placing sanctions meanwhile communicating trade deals with Taiwan has evidently shown China’s neighbours that by not appeasing China, they have an opportunity to strengthen their allyship and form beneficial trade deals under the Trump administration.
Trump’s friendship with Xi Jinping, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, was an additional factor in his silence over China’s human rights abuses with Uyghur Muslims and those in Hong Kong. The lack of reciprocity may have also been a factor in Trump’s newer stance of holding China accountable for its actions.
Opposingly, Biden referred to Xi as a “thug”. Relations between Xi and Biden will not be as good as Xi and Trump’s, if Trump’s claims of friendship appear to be sound.
Trump or Biden will both take the stance to hold China accountable. However, their methods will differ and may even be opposing roles.
Trump is demonstrating a more active approach but only monetarily. He has ordered sanctions but failed to publicly condemn China’s human rights abuses due to his friendship with Xi and their trade deal.
Biden may take a more cooperative approach to strengthen allyship with China’s neighbouring states. He also publicly condemned China’s human rights abuses. However, Biden is not as favoured by the neighbouring states due to Trump already proving that he is willing to invest in allyship economically via trade deals.
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