Oct 8, 2020

News | World Politics: Politics U.S.-China relations will 'reset' if Biden wins the election, says former American ambassador to Beijing


Abigail Ng

SINGAPORE — Democratic nominee Joe Biden would deal with Beijing in a “much more traditional” way if he wins the election, a former U.S. ambassador to China said this week.

“When it comes to China, I think you’ll see a bit of a reset,” Max Baucus told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday. “You will see a president who will engage in quiet diplomacy.”

“He will not use his Twitter account to affect foreign policy. Rather, it will be much more traditional,” said Baucus, who was appointed ambassador to China by President Barack Obama in 2014.

U.S. President Donald Trump has used Twitter to make huge announcements while in office, from increased tariffs on Chinese goods, to testing positive for the coronavirus.

Even though we see a lot of topline political rhetoric going back and forth, I think the relationship is a bit more sound than meets the eye.

Max Baucus

Former U.S. ambassador to China

Baucus, who is a member of the Democratic Party and supports Biden’s election bid, also said the former vice president would work with U.S. allies in the West, as well as countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia.

“That’s one big difference under a President Biden,” he said. Trump’s administration is seen to have alienated American allies.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks in the parking lot of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 951 while campaigning October 02, 2020 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The former ambassador’s comments come as Biden continues to lead the polls by a significant margin. Ahead of Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, the Democratic candidate was up more than 10 percentage points against Trump, at 52.1% versus 41.4%.

Additionally, a CNBC/Change Research survey found Biden leading in swing states that are important for an Electoral College victory.

If Biden wins the election, he would first work on domestic issues in the U.S., Baucus said. “Biden will take his time in re-establishing a relationship with China. He’s going to first focus on the American economy, first focus on getting jobs back, focus on defeating the virus.”

‘Complementary’ economic relationship 

Baucus also weighed in on the relationship between Washington and Beijing.

“Even though we see a lot of topline political rhetoric going back and forth, I think the relationship is a bit more sound than meets the eye,” he said.

That’s because of investments and commercial interest on both sides. “It’s a complementary economic relationship,” he said.

“The Chinese want our soybeans for their hog farmers, they want semiconductors to manufacture in China and we Americans want to be able to sell our soybeans to the hog producers in China. We want to sell our semiconductors.”

Under “phase one” of the U.S.-China trade deal, China agreed to spend $200 billion more on U.S. goods and services over two years. As of August, Beijing was not on track to meet its targets, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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