Biden has to restore damaged image of US - GulfToday

Biden has to restore damaged image of US


Joe Biden

US President-elect Joe Biden could bring in a breath of fresh air to the presidency. The image of the office of the presidency has taken a beating, thanks to his soon-to-be predecessor, who is crying foul perpetually in his foul rantings.

Already there are hopes that he will set the record straight with China and Russia. After four years of dealing with US President Donald Trump, Asia can expect Biden to improve ties with traditionally supportive nations and end a “silly trade war” with China, feels Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia.

As Mahathir Mohamad said, “I expect it to be different from Trump, because Trump knew practically nothing about Southeast Asia,” Mahathir said in an interview recorded on Jan. 7 and broadcast at the Reuters Next conference on Thursday.

“Trump used to be against almost every country, but now I think Biden would want to reverse that policy and have some understanding or friendly relations with many of the countries, which in the past have been quite supportive of America.”

Biden had said in November that the United States will be “ready to lead” again on the global stage when he formally takes over on Jan. 20, after the world grappled with Trump’s “America First” policy that antagonised allies and sparked a trade war with China.

The world’s two largest economies have been at odds since July 2018 over US demands for China to adopt policy changes that would better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to US companies. Their trade war damaged global growth and upended supply chains over the past two years.

Mahathir said Malaysia, like most countries, needs to be more sensitive to what China wants as the Asian powerhouse was too big to confront on issues such as trade imbalances or human rights violations.

Donald Trump is continuing his aggressive policies against the Chinese, bent on denting their economy, as he targeted some blue-chip firms. Tensions between America and China spiralled in recent days as outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration pushed through a ban on Americans investing in 35 firms it considers to be linked to China’s military.

Reports said Trump was considering adding Alibaba and Tencent, worth a combined $1.3 trillion, to the list of banned firms. They are the second and third biggest emerging market stocks in the world and held by almost every major US investment fund. As his tenure comes to an end, Trump does not seem to be likely to give up his hardline stance against the Chinese.   President-elect Joe Biden faces a challenging task fulfilling his foreign policy vision of the United States reclaiming its global leadership role after years in which the country stepped back and rival powers like China stepped in.

But analysts said that while the incoming Democratic administration could secure quick reversals in areas such as rejoining the Paris climate agreement that Trump abandoned, it would be more difficult reclaiming the global power relinquished by Washington, a trend that started before Trump.

Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has inherited an entirely different legacy, as Barack Obama’s vice president. China has assumed a larger global role, ranging from multilateral institutions to assisting development in Africa and Latin America. Over the past four years, the United States has taken steps to withdraw from the World Health Organisation and pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The United States and China have been increasingly at odds during the Trump presidency, as the world’s two biggest economies clashed over trade, Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, and Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

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