China sees US elections as Hobson’s choice

Trump and Biden both hailed as 'old foxes' likely to be tough on China, so people are not overly hopeful

China sees US elections as Hobson’s choice
Staff members set up Chinese and US flags for a meeting between Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at the Ministry of Transport in Beijing in April 2018. Photo: Jason Lee / AFP.

(ATF) As the US elections approach, there has been some public speculation as to which potential candidate – Trump or Biden – would be best for China.

China was originally happy that Trump had become President, as his 'rich' mentality seemed to match that of many business-minded Chinese. But with the Sino-US trade war, the woes of Huawei, and China being cast as America’s foe under his leadership, the Chinese are looking at Biden as a potentially better leader for their relationship with the US.

But, for many reasons, they are not overly hopeful.

Netease commentator Guo Guotao said: “They are both old foxes, but Biden said he would cancel any new tariffs on China. However, as a Chinese, one thing we must know is that whether it is the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, their consensus is to be tough on China. Therefore, for China, the policies of Biden and Trump are essentially the same. Do not have the illusion that the United States is 'friendly' to China.“

A Netease headline said: “If Biden is elected, China will rule the United States.”

The comment – made by Trump – was amusing for Chinese readers. And the website published the full quote: "In the election, China wants Trump to lose to sleepy Joe Biden. They dream of ruling our country. If Biden is president, then China will rule our country."

'Focused on retaining power'

The website's editorial response was that Trump was focused on retaining power and not focusing on how to govern better. It said if the US government spent time solving problems instead of looking for scapegoats, they would be better off. "The United States should be cooperating with, not isolating China."

Meanwhile, state media outlet ce.cn said, for the financial sector, the most important feature was the Democrat challenger was Joe Biden – not Elizabeth Warren. The Trump administration had loosened the US' post-crisis regulatory system in a piecemeal way. But Biden has been largely silent on Wall Street. In the past, he and his running partner Kamala Harris (Chinese name He Jinli) supported the idea of levying a financial transaction tax, but had not made that a key part of their political platform.

China Economic Net wrote: “Biden is in danger on trade issues. On the one hand, he criticised Trump's trade war against China, saying that the trade war protected large companies but hurt ordinary American workers. On the other hand, the Democratic candidate did not want to show weakness towards China or overly support free trade, so he promised to adopt a 'trade strategy that supports American workers'."

The Chinese paper noted Biden’s plan to increase taxes, plus his plan to build ‘green infrastructure’ and change the approach to managing the coronavirus and put more emphasis on public health.

“Like Trump, Biden expressed his intention to take 'active trade enforcement actions' against China or any country that he believes is a currency manipulator or [uses] other anti-competitive trade practices. But he said that, unlike Trump, he will seek support from US allies for these actions on a multilateral level,” the paper wrote.

One of the main differences between Biden and the current president is that he plans to impose a "carbon adjustment fee" on commodities from countries that fail to meet climate and environmental obligations. He said this would prevent countries that are major polluters from weakening US manufacturing.

Note: Wikipedia describes a Hobson's choice as a free choice in which only one thing is offered.