The close attention widely paid to the recent election campaign in the United States is understandable. We are talking about a change in the leadership of a country, which continues to occupy the position of one of the main pillars of the modern world order.
Leaving aside the theme of the nature of the “democratic procedure” in the United States (which caused “disappointment” for many, to put it mildly), let us note the main thing in this context: each of the other significant participants in the world political game associated some of their own expectations attached to it. In this regard, the first reaction of the three leading Asian countries (China, India and Japan) to the preliminary results of the American elections seems to be remarkable.
First, attention was drawn to the haste of expressing congratulations to Joe Biden, in which the prime ministers of India and Japan did not lag much behind their European counterparts. At the same time, no official reaction followed from Beijing to the democratic candidates declaration of “victory”. Apparently, it will not even be until the official announcement of the results of the elections held in the USA. Despite the fact that the Chinese press is actively discussing everything that is somehow connected with them.
First of all, it is noted that Donald Trump leaves American policy to his successors in a state of “degradation”. This implies an internal political situation, in the catastrophic deterioration of which Trump, however, is definitely less to blame than his opponents.
As for Washington’s course in the Chinese direction, it is to Donald Trump that US-China relations owe the extremely important ‘Phase 1 Agreement’ in the field of trade. The parties are implementing the main provisions of this document without interruption, despite understandable restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the aggravation of the political sphere of bilateral relations. Moreover, the latter is more likely a product of the “creativity” on the part of the US political establishment (represented in the current administration by M. Pompeo), over which Trump never managed to establish control.
It is precisely because of the extremely poor state of the political relations with the United States that the Chinese Global Times looks to the future with more than a small amount of skepticism. Believing, however, that there are resources for their improvement, which both sides should not waste.
The NEO has repeatedly noted that the highest ranking of these resources are trade and economic ties between the United States and the PRC (People’s Republic of China). In bilateral trade, the volume of which exceeds 600 billion dollars, there are serious problems, with the solution being aimed at the Agreement of the “1st Phase”. The main supporter of the further development of relations with the PRC remains American business.
China drew attention to the fact that at the third international exhibition the China International Import Expo (CIIE) (Shanghai, November 5 – 10) 197 American companies (5 more than the previous one, CIIE-2019) occupied the most extensive exhibition area. According to the Global Times, foreign exhibitors welcomed the message about J. Biden claim to victory in the recent elections.
But even if an intention to improve bilateral relations appears on the part of the new Washington administration, the “Taiwan problem” has become extremely aggravated in recent years.
In this regard, Taiwan’s reaction to the results of the American elections was remarkable. At first, it was almost mourning in nature, because just during the presidency of Donald Trump, the trend (to one degree or another always present in American politics) to provide comprehensive support to the Taiwanese leadership to acquire a full-fledged statehood for the island increased sharply. In recent months, special importance had been attached to the defense sphere of bilateral cooperation.
However, Taipei’s initial sadness was quickly replaced by official joy expressed in congratulations sent to Joe Biden by President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan. A similar metamorphosis in the camp of “Taiwanese separatists” provoked caustic comments from the same Global Times.
In the assessments of Indian experts on the results of the elections held in the United States and against the background of all sorts of speculations about the half-Indian K. Harris as vice president of the United States (which states, however, that she is a “proud American”), there is obviously a factor of a possible improvement in US-China relations.
The fact is that it was during the presidency of Donald Trump that the Indian leadership took a number of important steps towards the United States. Especially in the last six months a sharp aggravation of relations with China due to the conflict in Ladakh. In the wake of the (hypothetical) improvement in US-China relations, Delhi will be faced with a difficult question: how to proceed with Beijing?
Japan, in an absolutely obvious way, is sincerely (unlike many others) happy with Joe Biden, more for the expected departure of Trump as leader of a key ally. Which, as they say, “really got” Tokyo.
First, by regularly spoiling the mood with reminders of the US trade deficit with Japan of $ 70 billion annually. This is a good fact for Tokyo, but it is better to keep it as least noticeable as possible. In addition, the matter was not limited to talk, and the persistent D. Trump set a deadline (at the end of this year) for taking specific measures to correct the “obvious disgrace”.
Washington’s deliberate aggravation of US-China relations (and even against the background of the coronavirus pandemic) reduces the global economic situation, which negatively affects the foreign business of Japanese companies in general and in China in particular.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is going to discuss all these and other issues with Joe Biden during his visit to the United States, which is due to take place immediately after the inauguration of the US president, scheduled for January 20, 2021.
Finally, it is not superfluous to comment (with a short excursion into recent history) on the ostentatious joy that the allies and closest partners of the United States are expressing with unprecedented speed to the (potential) new American president. Let us recall that when at one time the overseas “knight without fear and reproach” courageously fought against windmills (that is, “with communism” and all kinds of “totalitarian regimes”), his allies made a not so small profitable deal.
Four years ago, they suddenly felt like an abandoned wife, who, in anger and tears, exclaimed: “Come back, I will forgive everything”.
And now, when a ray of hope has dawned, the “abandoned” says, smiling and wiping away her tears: “Dear, let’s forget the old and start all over again?”
It will not work. In any case, on the same scale. For Donald Trump is not a one-time aberration in the political life of the United States. Expressed in a style popular at the time, four years ago America “breathed in the long-awaited air of freedom” and is unlikely to allow itself to once again throw on the yoke of obligations to cunning allies and all sorts of “independent” rogues.
Because it is not clear with whom and in the name of what to fight today. More precisely, it is already clear that there is no one with whom and for what. Moreover, the problems inside the country are “through the roof”.
However, one should not underestimate the factor of the possible return to the American administration of one of those “three witches” who at one time whispered and prophesied to the then American “Macbeth”, that is, President Barack Obama, the prospect of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Libya.
After that, the United States was drawn into the military adventure of its European allies, the real catastrophic consequences of which the people of Libya are still unraveling.
Since the world game is shifting to Asia, a sharp strengthening of the “humanitarian” component of American foreign policy can be expected here. Moreover, the aforementioned second face of the new US administration was also marked with a “humanitarian” diagnosis. The formation of another trio of American political “witches” may complete the candidacy for the post of Secretary of Defense.
However, in connection with the situations in XUAR, Tibet, Hong Kong, the mentioned diagnosis of American policy in the Asian direction manifested itself quite clearly and “under the devil-Pompeo”. That is, with the coming to power in the United States of the new administration, one should hardly expect immediate and radical shifts in the regional political puzzle. As for the non-“immediate” and not “radical” ones, it is too early to say anything definite about them today.
Vladimir Terekhov, an expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.