China sees opportunities and risks from ‘divided’ U.S.

Chinese observers say U.S. Presidents tend to be more active in foreign affairs after midterm elections.

Updated - November 09, 2022 11:32 pm IST

Published - November 09, 2022 07:36 pm IST - Beijing

A meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is on the cards at the G20 Summit in Indonesia next week.

A meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is on the cards at the G20 Summit in Indonesia next week. | Photo Credit: Reuters

A closely contested midterm elections in the United States has been seen by strategic experts in rival China as underlining an increasingly divided country.

If divisions in America might ostensibly appear to pose benefits to Beijing amid its all-encompassing geopolitical rivalry with Washington, experts in the Chinese capital also fear escalating tensions given a broadly bipartisan consensus on a tougher approach to China.

“As can be seen from the experience of recent U.S. Presidents, after midterm election setbacks, they tend to be more active in foreign affairs, so the Biden administration is highly likely to do something that they think is in the vital strategic interests of voters to attract attention,” the Communist Party-run Global Times quoted an unnamed strategic expert as saying.

Noting that the Barack Obama White House had, a year after midterm setbacks, announced the killing of Osama bin Laden, while the Donald Trump administration released its Indo-Pacific Strategy report a year after its midterm woes, the expert said President Joe Biden “would also follow this route, perhaps further pushing the Indo-Pacific Strategy and solidifying the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework at the upcoming APEC summit” in Thailand next week.

Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University in Beijing, described the political contest in the U.S. as “a bitter rat race”.

“We are likely to see Republicans in Congress pushing for investigations into the incumbent Joe Biden, while at the local level Democrats continue to push for probes into Trump”.

“Divergences between China and U.S. may be further amplified, while cooperation may weaken,” Mr. Diao added, suggesting that “the Taiwan question a more prominent stumbling block in bilateral ties.”

A meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is on the cards at the G20 Summit in Indonesia next week, although there is little expectation of a major breakthrough on the many thorny issues straining ties.

Beijing slammed Democrat leader and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Taiwan in August, and has seen the Biden administration as broadly carrying forward Mr. Trump’s approach to China amid widening rifts on issues ranging from trade and Taiwan to human rights in Xinjiang and most recently, export controls imposed by the U.S. on advanced microchips, which dealt a major blow to China’s semiconductor industry.

Further rifts on Taiwan could soon follow. Mr. Xi, in the October Communist Party Congress, warned in strong language against external interference, even as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who may likely succeed Ms. Pelosi as House Speaker, has already pledged he will visit Taiwan.

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