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Jacques DeLisle, an expert in Chinese law and politics, has warned President-elect Joe Biden faces an uphill battle to rekindle ties with Beijing undone by the aggressive leadership of Donald Trump. The Professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, says the Trump administration has made relations between Washington and Beijing “much worse” and insisted despite Mr Biden winning the race for the White House “there is no going fully back”.
Professor DeLisle says the relationship between China and the US began to falter during the Obama administration and pointed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The trade agreement between the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam was signed in February 2016.
The huge deal – which did not include China – represented around 40 percent of the world’s economic output and required each nation to follow similar financial and regulatory policies.
Professor DeLisle said: “By about a decade ago, this had become clear and the relationship was beginning to head south.
“To be sure, the Trump Administration has made the relationship much worse.
“Some of this can be clawed back by a return to ‘normal’ US foreign policy under a Biden administration, but the world and the relationship have changed since circa 2000; there is no going fully back.”
Mr Biden, 77, is widely regarded as an internationalist and has vowed to work with allies against China rather than take unilateral action favoured by Mr Trump.
Under the leadership of Mr Trump, the US has gone head-to-head with China over economic policy, slapping hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on Chinese goods entering the US market.
Mr Trump has also placed unilateral curbs on a host of Chinese firms, including tech giant Huawei and Bytedance, which owns popular social media app TikTok.
Diplomatic relations have also soured in the disputed South China Sea, while ties between the US and Taiwan – a nation regarded as a wayward province by Beijing – have strengthened.
A blanket ban on international arrivals from China into the US was also enforced amid the outbreak of COVID-19 – a disease dubbed the “China virus” by Mr Trump.
Robert Manning, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, added the current approach taken against China is not working and insisted the US must change course as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is here to stay.
He said: “We have opened a new chapter in US China relations, we know what it is not, but have yet to forge consensus on what comes next.
“The current fevered tit-for-tat unravelling of the US-China relations is not sustainable.”
He added: “There is no sign that the CCP is disappearing anytime soon. China is the number two economy in the world, and the number one trading power, capital exporter and climate polluter—the US has to deal with.”
But, relations between Mr Biden and China already got off to a rocky start after the CCP failed to recognise his outright win in the US election.
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Mr Biden passed the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House on Saturday – but Mr Trump has since launched a number of legal challenges over the result, and made baseless allegations of voter fraud.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “We noticed that Mr Biden has declared election victory.
“We understand that the US presidential election result will be determined following US law and procedures.”
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