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The Upcoming Election Season Could Destabilize US-China Relations

US And China (Credits: CNN)

The consensus on the threat posed by China spans the political spectrum, with both President Biden and former President Trump emphasizing the need for the United States to stand firm against Beijing.

While Biden’s rhetoric may be more measured, his policies toward China have been perceived by some as tougher than Trump’s, despite the latter’s repeated accusations of Biden being soft on China.

As the rhetoric heats up in the lead-up to the November election, electoral considerations are likely to drive further tension in U.S.-China relations. Both candidates may be tempted to emphasize differences and propose policies that risk escalating conflict between the two nations, potentially even to the point of war.

Biden with President Xi Jinping (Credits: Al Jazeera)

Public opinion reflects widespread skepticism of China across party lines, with a majority of Americans holding negative views of the country. This sentiment provides little incentive for bipartisan cooperation on China-related issues.

However, given the intertwined nature of the U.S. and Chinese economies, changes to trade policy could escalate tensions and have far-reaching consequences. The situation is particularly precarious regarding Taiwan, where heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington could lead to a dangerous escalation.

The prospect of increased U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, especially during a contentious election season, could exacerbate tensions further. While such a move might bolster a candidate’s image as tough on China, it risks provoking a dangerous response from Beijing.

On the other hand, Trump’s unpredictable approach to foreign policy introduces an element of volatility, including in his stance toward China. While he has portrayed himself as tough on Beijing, there are concerns that he may prioritize securing a deal with China over supporting Taiwan’s interests.

Biden With China’s Xi (Credits: CNBC)

The challenge for both candidates is to avoid using China policy as a political tool that could unnecessarily escalate tensions and lead to conflict.

War with China would be detrimental to both countries’ interests, and it is essential that both Trump and Biden prioritize stability in their approach to U.S.-China relations, even the demands of a heated election campaign. Finally, the goal should be to avoid sacrificing the long-term interests of the United States and China for short-term political gain.

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