As the Biden administration would take time to settle down, the first half of 2021 will be crucial for Beijing to lay down new terms of engagement. It is shaping the battleground before Biden can come up with his own strategic response.
Even as the US remains embroiled in post-election partisan cacophony and the rest of the world awaits a Joe Biden Presidency, China is busy trying to shape the strategic chessboard in accordance with its own priorities. On one hand, Beijing is busy signaling that it hopes for a new opening under Biden after a dramatic slide in US-China ties under Donald Trump.
Addressing the Board of the US-China Business Council last week, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi suggested that the “most urgent task” for both countries was to ensure a smooth transition of ties and called for a resumption of talks with officials of the incoming Biden administration. Making a pitch for “a direction that conforms to the interest of both countries’ people,” Wang talked of rebuilding “mutual trust in the next phase of China-US relations.” Clearly, China views this as an important window of opportunity before the Biden administration firms up its China policy amid a further tightening of screws by Trump. Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping had hinted at a reset in ties during his congratulatory call to Biden, underlining Beijing’s desire for the two sides to pursue healthy and stable relations.