Unlike Russia, China cares how it is perceived by the outside world – though, admittedly, it does not apply this consistently and only in regard to certain countries. The United States is one of them. Thus it has been careful not to appear to have a preference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the next US president.
The absence of public avowals, however, does not mean policymakers don’t have a private preference. And that would be for Biden. No surprise there. But it remains useful to understand what this means in policy formulation.
Until this year, Beijing’s private preference was for Trump to win a second term. The damage that Trump had inflicted on American global leadership was seen as beneficial to China. Also, China did not believe that Trump bought into the Great Power competition narrative, and that in fact he acted as a check on the real anti-China hawks in his administration.
Indeed, prior to this year, Trump had been reluctant to criticize Beijing on its actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet and with Taiwan. Trump, instead, was viewed as a transactional president, interested in trade and business. China could live with that.
Read the full article in Asia Times.