When will U.S. anti-China hysteria come to an end?
First Voice

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Following three Telco giants, Chinese oil majors could be the next target for delisting in the United States. The move, grounded in political rather than professional motives, will undoubtedly dampen international investors' confidence in the U.S. capital market. Trump knows it, but he is still firm in his anti-Beijing campaign.

Considering the president's norm-breaking acts in the past four years, the move is no surprise. The real question is – when will such hysteria towards China come to an end?

Back in 2016, grassroots white Americans voted anti-establishment Trump into the Oval Office. For the first time, long-held ideals of American democracy have been challenged. Pledging to “Make America Great Again”, Trump's solution was straightforward – waging trade wars on friends and foes alike; withdrawing the country from global pacts, and avoiding responsibilities for international affairs.

The consequences have been catastrophic. Populist policies originally introduced to woo American voters were ironically implemented at the sacrifice of blue-collar workers – the same group of people who supported Trump in 2016. Establishment forces are also fed up with Trump's "madness."

The 2020 election was more a fight between Biden-represented American institutions and anti-establishment forces with Trump being the spokesperson than a partisan battle. Biden, although a Democrat, has high hopes pinned on him by establishment politicians of both parties to bring the United States back to the right track. This requires the new president to restore multilateralism, intensify cooperation with allies, and mend ties with China.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden addresses an event to name his economic team at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 1, 2020. /Getty

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden addresses an event to name his economic team at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 1, 2020. /Getty

The victory of the establishment, to some extent, would alleviate Washington's hysteria on China. The future administration may still regard China as a competitor. But unlike Trump firing shot at China on all fronts, Biden is highly likely to focus more on domestic affairs, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic is killing millions of American citizens and dragging the economy into a record slowdown.

The president-elect's choice of cabinet is also worth noting. While Trump hired a number of China hawks straining every nerve to find trouble with China, Biden's advisers are taking a relatively mild stance on China-related issues, prioritizing the need to coexist with the world's second largest economy over containing it. Admittedly, competition is unavoidable between China and the United States, but an all-out confrontation is never an option for them. So far, Biden's team has not labelled China as a "strategic" competitor. This tells a lot about its stance on ties with China.

But don't forget, the United States is still a split society. Biden's win did not alter this fact. Trump lost the election for his failure to revive the U.S. economy, but the fight between establishment and anti-establishment forces has never ended. China-hawkish Republicans still have much say in Congress. This means even if Biden steps foot in the Oval Office, hawkish GOP figures could still pressure the Democrat president to act tough on issues related to China, especially in fields of 5G where they deem China to be a threat.

Biden may intend to put domestic affairs at top priority after assuming office. But dealing with a split America is a challenging task. A failure to address tussles in domestic politics will eventually cost him his political agenda, and foreign policy may be sacrificed.

Anyone keeping an eye on China-U.S. ties hopes to see Washington's anti-Beijing hysteria could come to an end. But the issue is not dependent on who will be the next occupant of the Oval Office, but how the U.S. domestic political fight develops.

Script writer: Liu Jianxi

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