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Chinese policy advisors expect Joe Biden to honour commitments with China if he wins the U.S. presidency and perhaps even reverse tariffs on Chinese goods, despite slamming a Phase 1 trade deal in last night's debate with President Donald Trump, they told MNI.
But the advisors, who said they were surprised that U.S.-China relations did not play a bigger role in the event, cautioned that while Biden, should he be victorious in November, might be more predictable and easier to communicate with than Trump, geopolitical and economic dynamics, as well as concerns over security, could keep the two countries locked in disputes.
The Phase 1 trade deal which went into effect in February is currently the strongest element of a bilateral relationship seen in both capitals as being it its lowest ebb in decades. Biden told Trump it showed how China had "perfected the art of the steal," but the former vice president would if elected be unlikely to renege on the agreement, which contains Chinese pledges to expand purchases from the U.S. by USD200 billion, said Shi Yinhong, a U.S.-China expert at Renmin University.
"What if they could not get a higher purchase number? There would be only a small possibility that Biden would really renegotiate the deal," said Shi, while another advisor said that Biden could even tariffs imposed under Trump or re-engage with the World Trade Organization. Wang Huiyao, founder of the Center for China and Globalization and a policy advisor to the State Council, added that a U.S. return to the Paris climate accord under Biden would also provide another platform for negotiations between Washington and Beijing.
But policy advisors are under no illusions that a Biden administration would soften its stance on geopolitical issues.
"It would be hard to imagine that a Democratic president would be less tough than a Republican over issues such as Hong Kong and the South China Sea," Shi noted.
Across Beijing, policymakers and advisors are still assessing Biden's China policy. Lv Xiang, a U.S. expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he had expected China to feature more in the debate.
As MNI has previously reported, advisors in Beijing think a potential Biden presidency could improve U.S.-China communications and maybe even revive hopes for a Phase Two trade deal, but that the trend for the world's two biggest economies to decouple significant parts of their trade relationship would be likely to continue.