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‘Two Bowls of Poison’ – HotAir

Is Xi Jinping preparing to endorse Nikki Haley? Or perhaps RFK Jr.? It’s not that any of us should really care what an adversarial foreign power thinks about American elections, but the Chinese Communist Party is clearly not a fan of either the current administration or the potential return of Donald Trump for a second bite at the apple. This week, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai addressed the November elections and declared that Beijing is unimpressed with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, describing them as “two bowls of poison” in terms of future Sino-American relations. They are unhappy with Biden’s efforts to unify America’s Pacific allies against their interests and Trump’s tough talk on the campaign trail about taking on the Chinese. They also signaled that they have been taking some of Biden’s gaffes about Taiwan seriously. (Associated Press)

As the U.S. presidential campaign moves closer to a Donald Trump-Joe Biden rematch, China is watching uneasily.

First, there are concerns about the campaign itself, where candidates are likely to talk tough on China. That could threaten the fragile improvements in U.S.-China relations seen in recent months.

Then there’s the outcome of the November vote. Neither candidate is particularly appealing to Beijing. While Biden has looked for areas of cooperation with China, Beijing is concerned about his efforts to unite allies in the Indo-Pacific in a coalition against China. It’s also nervous about his approach to Taiwan after he has repeatedly said he would have U.S. troops defend it in a conflict with China.

Normally, hearing an adversarial power being openly critical of the candidates should be a feather in the cap of both men. But given the outsized role that China will play in future foreign relations, this is something to keep an eye on. The furthest that Zhao Minghao was willing to go was to say that Beijing would likely find Joe Biden to be “the lesser of two evils.”

It seems rather odd that China wouldn’t be taking it a bit easier on the current president when you consider the tens of millions of dollars they’ve funneled into the Bidens’ coffers over the years. Perhaps they feel they aren’t getting their money’s worth now that he’s in power. As for Trump, he seemed to get along well enough with Xi during his presidency, but he did impose some harsh sanctions on them.

A second Chinese analyst took a slightly different view, saying that it doesn’t really matter to the CCP who wins the election. The end result will be the same either way.

“No matter who takes office, it will not change the overall direction of America’s strategic competition with China,” said Sun Chenghao, a fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University. “China doesn’t have any preference for who will win the presidential election because China has experience dealing with either of them for four years.”

Most of the analysts weighing in on this agree that the real breaking point for China in terms of Donald Trump came when Trump began publicly accusing them of being responsible for the COVID pandemic outbreak. While that remains an obviously justifiable accusation, China continues to insist that the virus arose naturally and there was nothing amiss at the Wuhan laboratory. That’s the party line and they are clearly sticking with it.

Whether it’s Donald Trump or (Lord help us) a second Biden term, the next President will have to manage America’s relationship with China carefully. China continues to expand its military capabilities at a rapid pace. Just last year they launched their new Fujian class aircraft carrier, which has been described as the largest and most dangerous carrier in the world. Satellite images have revealed that they also have a new class of amphibious assault vessels undergoing trials. They continue to expand their armada of warplanes that regularly infringe on Taiwan’s airspace.

Ideally, the White House should be able to maintain the status quo with China. They are unlikely to have a serious change of heart or back down, but they are also particularly nervous about the possibility that Trump might go to war with them in defense of Taiwan. That’s one war we really don’t want on our plate if it can be avoided, but we also can’t afford to allow China to bully us and expand its dominance of international supply chains. Sino-American relations appear calm at the moment, but that situation won’t hold forever.

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