This much is certain: while many Americans are quick to dismiss Joe Biden as yet another “mainstream” candidate who wants to do little more than preserve the status quo due to his let’s say centrist allure (compared to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two candidates who have made disrupting the system the focal point of their campaigns, Trump on the right as a die-hard capitalist and Sanders on the left as a self-proclaimed socialist), let’s just say that many of the United States’ Western trading partners don’t necessarily perceive this “flaw” as a negative element.
On the contrary.
Elementary game theory tells us that if we see things from the perspective of let’s say Germany to give a European example or Canada to give a North American example, the Donald Trump administration’s attitude as far as allies (?) are concerned has been chaotic… to put it mildly.
From forcing Germany’s hand with respect to anything from beefing up its defense spending so as to reach parity with its NATO 2% commitment to “convincing” it to tone things down a notch (or two) when it comes to pipeline deals with Russia. From placing tremendous pressure on Canada from a trade perspective to the point of painting the picture of it receiving a proverbial free ride from the US to minimizing its climate-related agenda/priorities… the list could go on and on.
In light of this chaotic framework, it should come as no surprise that Western trading partners would consider a let’s say centrist administration a breath of fresh air. For example, while Barack Obama and past presidents raised similar issues as far as let’s say NATO spending was concerned, they for the most part did that in a manner in line with diplomatic frameworks as opposed to Donald Trump let’s call it (multiple orders of magnitude more) spontaneous approach.
In someone’s personal life, spontaneity may very well be a positive aspect.
In business, a similar principle is valid in some cases.
As far as international relations are concerned, however, the exact opposite is true. “Boring” is good and there is nothing more diplomats want than a boringly predictable landscape. As such, is it that big of a surprise that Western trading partners consider Joe Biden a potential facilitator of predictability and as such, a more desirable option than Donald Trump?
Of course not.
Where does this leave China?
As mentioned in other articles as well, one might assume that the exact same principle is valid when it comes to China, with Beijing being less than thrilled about how things have evolved from a trade perspective over the past few years… the trade war narrative, in a nutshell.
However, that assumption may very well be a bit short-righted.
Simply because while it is true that Beijing doesn’t want this trade war narrative, would it be that much of a stretch to assume that it would be willing to accept and even prefer it if there are enough pros involved that sweeten the deal? Even unintentionally facilitated pros?
Time and time again, it is relatively straightforward to notice that Beijing doesn’t shy away from playing the long-term game. And from a long-term perspective, there are more than a few advantages associated with the Donald Trump administration, even if most of them are unintentional, for example:
- The fact that Donald Trump manages to put unprecedented strain on the United States’ relationship with most military as well as economic allies, a geopolitical climate that enables China to gain influence… one inch at a time, if you will
- The fact that in light of Donald Trump’s many excesses and controversial decisions (such as the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Accords and its attitude toward climate, the Iran nuclear deal situation and many others), it is far easier for Beijing’s excesses (especially human rights-related ones) to fly under the (geopolitical) radar
- The fact that few candidates generate more polarization among US citizens than Donald Trump… once again, the perfect context for an economic adversary such as China
The list could continue but there is no need to dig deeper in light of the fact that the common denominator is should be crystal-clear: the fact that China may very well prefer a Trump re-election scenario.
As humorous as it may seem, it is once again all about Trump. From Western partners which prefer Biden to economic adversaries such as China that have a valid case in favor of preferring Trump… the reasons for the most part gravitate toward Donald Trump, with little attention being paid to Joe Biden, his platform, his messages and overall attitude.
Say what you will about Donald Trump but this much is certain: he has most definitely managed to shift pretty much everyone’s attention toward him. Whether we are referring to those who criticize him, those who praise him, those who falsely praise him so as to push their more or less obscure agendas and so on, it is undeniable that for the foreseeable future, the current president of the United States is likely to remain in the spotlight.
Where does that leave Joe Biden?
Ironically, in a remarkably good position to speculate the current situation and center his campaign around the idea that “balance” is the operative word and the United States might revert to just that if he is electing, a situation allies and domestic moderates alike clearly stand behind. From China’s perspective, as pretty much always, the situation tends to be far more complex than meets the eye and while there are clearly disadvantages for Beijing that derive from a Trump Presidency, the pros which have been hopefully clearly enough outlined through this article may very well ultimately outweigh the cons. As frequently to the point of obsessively mentioned here at ChinaFund.com, paying attention to nuances is a must if you are serious about meaningfully understanding this jurisdiction, something our team would be happy to be of assistance with.