Zheng Yongnian, Dean of the Shenzhen-based think tank 'Advanced Institute of Global and Contemporary China Studies', was quoted by South China Morning Post (November 22) as saying on the sidelines of the 'Understanding China Conference' in Guangzhou, that there was now a bipartisan consensus in the US on containing China. Zheng Yongnian, who attended a symposium hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping in August to offer advice on China’s long-term strategy, said China should not miss any opportunity to mend relations with the United States but should not assume that relations with the US would return to how they were before Donald Trump’s rise to power. He said President-elect Joe Biden might take advantage of the public resentment towards China after he entered the White House, but “American society is torn apart. I don’t think Biden can do anything about it.” Zheng Yongnian added “He is certainly a very weak president, if he can’t sort out domestic issues, then he will do something on the diplomatic front, do something against China. If we say Trump is not interested in promoting democracy and freedom, Biden is. Trump is not interested in war … but a Democratic president could start wars.” Zheng Yongnian also warned that the clash of values could intensify under Biden. He said “The difference is that Trump is a businessman and behaves unpredictably, while Biden takes the elite route and is usually predictable”. “So, Trump is irrationally tough [on China], and Biden is rationally tough.” He assessed that a polarised US society had led to a hostile view about the external world in which China was “victimised”. “The deteriorating US-China relationship is the victim of internal problems in the US, and an external reflection of US internal problems.” Saying the tech wars between the two countries might get worse once Biden took office, he said “We must have our own technology, we have to reform our system. The protection of intellectual property rights is very important, not only in response to Western pressure, not any more. Otherwise, how can we promote independent research and develop local enterprises?”

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