Trump and Biden dispute heavy-handed rhetoric against China

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The democrat has hardened his speech against the regime, while the US president promises to reduce economic ties with Beijing

In the 2020 US presidential campaign, no one wants to play good cop with China. The Asian giant and the first power are immersed in a duel on multiple fronts – commercial, technological, geopolitical – that can be described as a new cold war and has been aggravated by the pandemic. The Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has hardened his speech against the regime, which he does not stop pointing to as a rival in his economic program, and has even described its leader, Xi Jinping, as a “bully.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump promises to minimize the close ties that now unite both economies.

“We will manufacture our crucial supplies in the United States, create tax credits for the economy made in America, we will bring our jobs back to the United States and impose tariffs on companies that defect from the United States to create jobs in China and other countries, “said the Republican president last Monday at a press conference from the White House, with Occasion of Labor Day. “We are going to end our dependence on China because we cannot depend on them and I do not want them to build the military force that they are building with our money,” he added.

A volume of exchanges of about 500,000 million euros (590,000 million dollars) per year is at the center of the commercial pulse between both powers. The lion’s share is Chinese exports to the United States (451.6 billion dollars in 2019), compared to the sales of American companies in China (106.447 million in the same period), and that gap is the trade deficit that Trump has fought with his arm. iron since his first election campaign, in 2016.

The rhetoric against China is not surprising in his re-election race, but it has also permeated that of his Democratic rival, keenly aware of the havoc that deindustrialization has wreaked on the American middle and working class. Robotization aside, these voters cannot avoid associating the loss of manufacturing jobs with leakage of production to third countries.

Biden has made the strategy made in America the heart of its economic program and also speaks explicitly of “recovering critical supply chains to the United States, so that we do not depend on China or any other country for the production of crucial items in times of crisis”, after the moments of shortage of medical equipment that many countries have suffered during the pandemic. He promises “a strong hand” against companies that mislabel their products as manufactured in the US, when they come from China, and accuses the regime of “continuing their commercial abuses.” In addition, he warns that the regime is on the path to surpass the leading power in Research and Development. And so, up to 24 times, in short, the word China appears in the industrial reactivation plan proposed by Trump’s rival.

The speech of the candidate Biden has migrated from that of the senator or vice president Biden had regarding China. In 2001, on his return from a trip to the country, then-Senator Biden said: “The United States welcomes the emergence of a prosperous and integrated China on the global stage because we hope that this will be a China that plays by the rules. ”.

Nineteen years later, he does not feel that Beijing has acted like this. In an article published in April in Foreign Affairs, the candidate for the White House argued that the United States should “get tough” with China. If Beijing were allowed what it wanted, it added in the text, it would continue to “steal the intellectual property and technology of American companies.”

Biden marks distances from Trump in style and in part in substance – the former vice president has not promoted the message of the “Chinese virus”, as the Republican does, to blame Beijing for this pandemic – but has made it clear that his is also going to be a tough speech against Xi Jinping’s regime. In a debate between Democratic candidates last February, he accused Xi of being a “bully” and not having “a single democratic bone” in his body. “He is a guy who has put a million Uyghurs in reconstruction camps, which means concentration camps and look what is happening in Hong Kong,” he stressed.

The hardening of the stance towards China also reflects a general disappointment in the limited progress of economic openness and freedoms and rights made by the authoritarian regime after its entry into the global market.

The tariff escalation promoted by Washington against Beijing – which has replicated to a lesser extent, since the volume of what it imports from the United States is much lower – has reduced that trade deficit by 18% throughout the trade war they have waged since 2018 and has been followed by a spiral of threats, sanctions and accusations of espionage. Both powers have also launched a career in various fields such as global influence, technological innovation, ultra-modern weapons and, finally, the discovery of the vaccine against the coronavirus. The rivalry and mistrust between the two countries were already apparent in 2016, but the 2020 election campaign has run into a situation of tension unprecedented in decades.

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