Why Biden is more concerning for China than Trump

Jim O’Neill, former chief economist at the Goldman Sachs Group, in Italy in 2019.

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg via Getty Image

LONDON – Joe Biden’s presidency would be a bigger problem for the Chinese government than the Donald Trump administration’s nearly four years, economist Jim O’Neill told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Friday.

Trump unilaterally adopted a different approach to US-China relations by imposing tariffs on Beijing. The outgoing president often took to Twitter to suspend business practices of the Asian powerhouse, and he began a trade war with China that weighed the global economy.

For example, it differs from the European approach, which often pushes to negotiate commercial disputes with China using traditional institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the G-20.

But President-Elect Biden is also likely to insist on these agreements at a multilateral trade table, which could mean more concrete action when working with China.

O’Neill, a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs and now chairman of Britain’s think tank Chatham House, said, “The notion that the Chinese are more concerned by a Biden administration than a Trump administration.” “Strong philosophical belief” on key issues.

“And, they (Biden’s staff) are going to use the existing multinational forums to capture and try on China according to the standards of such international forums, be it WHO, G20, World Bank, etc., Instead. He said that this type of conversational style is very much in love with Trump.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Biden for his election victory earlier this week. According to media reports, Xi said he expected the two countries to maintain a sense of “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect” while managing their differences.

One of the many points of tension between the US and China has been on climate change. Prior to the Trump presidency, Washington and Beijing often spoke on how to deal with increased levels of CO2.

However, America’s climate ambitions changed with Trump, and increased pressure on China to cool its efforts on emissions to some extent. Beijing changed its stance and in September – just a few weeks away from the presidential election in the US – it announced its aim to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2060.

“In an odd way it may already force China to think a little differently,” O’Neill said of the impact of the US election on China.

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