What will Become of the China-US Relationship Following Elections?

October 15, 2020

The Columbia Global Centers in Santiago and Rio have teamed up with the Center for International Studies at Universidad Católica (CEIUC) to hold a series of conversations on the upcoming US elections.

In the first event in this series, Andrew Nathan, Director of Graduate Studies at Columbia’s Political Science Department and an expert on Chinese politics and foreign policy, presented on the current state and eventual impact of election results in the US relationship with China.

“Although we think of China today as a behemoth, very strong and spreading its tentacles all over the world, it’s better to think of China as a country that still doesn’t feel secure. Insecurity, threat, vulnerability is the theme we need to use to understand China’s international behavior,” Nathan said during the webinar.

With this in consideration, the competition between the world’s two largest economies is expected to continue, regardless of who wins the US Presidential Election on November 3.

Joe Biden “is surrounded by sophisticated Asia experts. His policy will be a toughened-up version of the Obama policy, which was the pivot to Asia, strengthening the military in Asia to send a message to China, turning more to multi-lateralism and turning to allies to effectively constrain China,” he said.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump were to get reelected, “this is hard to predict because Trump himself is non-strategic and inconsistent,” Nathan noted, adding that Trump got to the White House in a populist reaction against globalization, seeing China as representing a threat to the western values system.

The event was co-moderated by CEIUC director Jorge Sahd and the Santiago Center director Karen Poniachik.