July 25, 2024

Cocoabar21 Clinton

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Biden administration’s approach to China and East Asia

3 min read

SINGAPORE — The Biden administration will likely maintain tough rhetoric against China, a former Singapore diplomat said Wednesday.

But it remains to be seen if the administration would listen to other countries in the region before implementing its policies towards Beijing, Kishore Mahbubani, now a distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“I think there’s absolutely no question that the Biden administration has to appear very tough on China,” he said, adding, “That’s very clear because there is a strong bipartisan consensus within the United States that the time has come for the U.S. to stand up to China.”

He made his remarks Wednesday morning during Asian hours before Joe Biden was inaugurated.

U.S.-China relations worsened significantly under President Donald Trump as the two superpowers fought a trade war and are competing for technological superiority. In some instances, the U.S. sought to bring countries to its side against China. But in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, Beijing’s economic and political influence remains strong.

“The critical thing here is will the Biden administration listen to the countries of the region before they implement any policy towards China?” Mahbubani said. He explained that if the Biden administration starts listening, it would discover that there is a very strong consensus in East Asia.

“Yes, you have to be firm and strong on China, but we also have to get along with China. We have to work with China. We want our economies to recover from Covid-19. So that’s the message you’ll get,” Mahbubani said.

The U.S Capitol Building is prepared for the inaugural ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden as American flags are placed in the ground on the National Mall on January 18, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

“At the end of the day, I am actually optimistic that behind the very strong rhetoric, there’s also an understanding in the Biden administration that they got to work with the rest of East Asia. And frankly, also work with China on critical issues like climate change for example,” he added.

U.S. return to Asia

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