Slick Mr. Biden and Fickle Mr. Trump

The United States presidential election is not until November, but everyone is currently fixated on whom the next president will be. The Japanese government has been itching to sound out Donald Trump lately, hoping he will not patch things up with the Chinese Communist Party and impact the situation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trump is unpredictable and rarely plays by the rules; Joe Biden is a veteran politician who knows the rules and does everything by the book, making him the predictable one, whereas Trump will do one thing and say another and is as fickle as can be. This is worrying.

I was despondent when Biden won the election in 2020, concerned about his old age and his son’s dealings with the CCP, and about the return of a scenario in which the CCP has a finger in every pie around the world. There was no great fanfare after Biden took office; instead, he quietly went about managing his own map of the world, and in less than a year, the U.S. began to improve its relationships with European countries and was once again cozying up to Asian nations like Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The relationship between the EU and the CCP subsequently turned sour, and Japan, South Korea and Australia fell out with China, too. Without batting an eye and in one fell swoop, Biden flipped the U.S.-China relationship from one of ambiguity to one of antagonism, thus establishing the United States’ global united front against communism.

When Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CCP Central Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Yang Jiechi met in Alaska, Blinken’s remark about the U.S. “dealing with Beijing … from a position of strength” infuriated Yang. But the fact is, the U.S. has been closing in on the CCP ever since — from a position of strength, and all in the name of “competition.” To this day, the CCP is completely isolated in the international arena, while the U.S. has rolled out the troops and taken effortless control of the situation.

When Trump was in office, he cozied up to Xi Jinping and made a personal visit to the Korean peninsula to bury the hatchet with Kim Fatty the Third. His intentions here were to rid himself of the EU, Japan, and South Korea and to deal directly with the CCP and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, all for the sake of “America First” and “Making America Great Again,” thereby changing the world as we know it. He really thought himself capable of handling the two communist countries on his own, to the benefit of the U.S.

But he overestimated himself. Trump’s second-generation wealth has led to the kind of overweening arrogance that makes him think he can take on the world single-handedly; as a result of his over-confidence, he is reckless and incoherent in what he does. When discussing the Hong Kong issue with his White House staff, he referred to the CCP as a “desktop” and to Hong Kong merely as a “lead pencil,” but when the CCP was about to send the Shenzhen Armed Police into Hong Kong on a crackdown, Trump stopped the action.

Trump is loath to cross swords with the CCP and deplete the United States’ resources, but he will put his foot down when things cross the line with him. When Xi overturned the trade agreement drafted by the two countries during the U.S.-China trade war, the evils of the CCP were truly brought home to Trump. It was an attack on his pride, and he wound up furious and falling out with Xi. Recently, Trump has stated he would impose a 60% tariff on Chinese imports to the U.S. if he wins a second term, but he has also never missed the chance to praise Xi’s ability, and that’s just the way he is, love him or leave him.

Biden’s Democrats are traditionally left-leaning liberals, while the Republicans under Trump are traditionally right-leaning conservatives, so the Republican Party would ordinarily be more incompatible with the CCP. But Trump is a businessman who talks about profit more than principles. He is unpredictable, weighs the pros and the cons of everything, and does not stubbornly cling to any political convictions, proceeding from a scattered perspective, doing as he sees fit. Biden, on the other hand, looks at the overall situation. He does not seek instant results from his policies, but focuses instead on long-term strategic management.

If Trump wins the election, will there be a major reversal in U.S. foreign policy? I think not. In terms of U.S. policy toward China in particular, the deciding factors are not in Trump’s hands but in the hands of Congress and the two parties and, ultimately, in the hands of the American people.

Congress and both parties are currently in unprecedented agreement over the China policy and have passed many major initiatives involving China by an overwhelming vote, meeting little resistance. The reason for this is that both the governing party and the opposition view the CCP as the United States’ biggest enemy, and believe that the CCP will seize and capitalize on slightest carelessness, thus jeopardizing the United States’ international standing. The U.S. has learned some hard lessons over the past 40 years.

Given the anti-communist sentiment in the U.S. government, Trump’s fickle nature is unlikely to get him very far. Fueled by wishful thinking and impulsive behavior, he may yet pull some surprise moves out of the bag, but that is unlikely to represent a fundamental U-turn, to jeopardize the anti-communist camp that has formed in the West, or to cause another slide in U.S.-European or U.S.-Japanese relations. If it came to that, it would be acceptable neither to the members of Congress nor to the American people.

Regardless of who becomes president, safeguarding the fundamental interests of the United States is universally accepted, and maintaining its world leadership goes without saying. Viewed side-by-side, Biden has really changed the world, whereas all Trump has done is change the world’s view of him.

Trump sometimes raises people’s ire, and at other times he leaves them perplexed; this is a function of his personality. By contrast, everything Biden does is largely within people’s expectations. Biden is not naïve, and he handles government affairs with aplomb — it is just that his mind wanders sometimes, and when it does, he can joke about it.

Whom does the CCP prefer as the next president of the United States? I don’t think they like either candidate, since each has his own problems. Biden seems to talk the talk, but he is actually quite troublesome; Trump appears troublesome, but he is actually not hard to deal with. The CCP ought to favor Trump over Biden, but unfortunately, Biden has set up a framework for U.S.-China relations, and Trump cannot simply knock it down and rebuild it. That is not up to him, but the American people.

About this publication

About Matthew McKay 110 Articles
Matthew is a British citizen who grew up and is based in Switzerland. He received his honors degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford and, after 15 years in the private sector, went on to earn an MA in Chinese Languages, Literature and Civilization from the University of Geneva. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and an associate of both the UK's Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the Swiss Association of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting. Apart from Switzerland, he has lived in the UK, Taiwan and Germany, and his translation specialties include arts & culture, international cooperation, and neurodivergence.

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