China Urges Biden to Seek Beijing's Help for COVID-19, Economy

China used its state-controlled media this week to urge President-elect Biden to put aside hard-line Trump-era policies and "partner" with Beijing to solve the pandemic, as well as America's flailing economy.

China's "huge market" is irreplaceable, and its manufacturing base could help the U.S. distribute a desperately needed vaccine, Communist Party newspaper Global Times said in an editorial on Sunday.

The state-owned tabloid said the Chinese foreign ministry extended an "olive branch" to Washington when it congratulated Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, following deteriorating U.S.-China relations under President Donald Trump.

Seeing an opportunity to finally move away from its damaging trade war with the Trump administration, the Chinese leadership now appears eager to reposition itself as a potentially vital part of an American recovery and return to the world stage led by Democrat Joe Biden.

China and the U.S. should "put down their acrimonies and start earnest collaboration in good will," Global Times wrote, lamenting American time and lives lost to COVID-19 due to Washington's failure to work with Beijing.

It called on the president-elect to seek China's advice in containing the virus, and make use of the country's vast manufacturing sector in order to store and distribute the upcoming American-made vaccines.

The party newspaper, which usually espouses the Chinese government's most hard-line convictions, also sought to align some of its talking points with Biden administration views, including describing as "senseless and irresponsible" Trump's apparent refusal to concede the election and allow for a smooth transition of power.

"It is imperative to reinstall an effective federal leadership in the U.S. that knows how to cope with a severe crisis of this magnitude," the paper wrote, almost echoing the former vice president's campaign trail promise. The editorial even had time to defend the integrity of Dr. Anthony Fauci from "ultra-rightists."

President-elect Joe Biden
File photo: President-elect Joe Biden. Mark Makela/Getty Images

It urged Biden to end the ongoing trade war with China, framing it as unfavorable to the U.S. and its businesses, which it said "vehemently opposed Trump's so-called 'economic decoupling' attempt."

"The beauty or irreplaceability of China lies in this country's huge market scale," the Chinese Communist Party publication said. U.S. firms "know perfectly well they could not find another giant and growing market like China's," it added.

Old faces

While it remains to be seen whether Beijing's attempts to bring Biden onside will be successful, analysts from within and without China are expecting a more multilateral approach to international relations from the president-elect, especially on global issues such as climate change and nuclear disarmament.

In an op-ed on Monday, Global Times described positively Biden's incoming cabinet members, who will include Obama-era foreign policy veterans Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security advisor.

The messages from friends and colleagues that I’ve received over the past 15 hours have been humbling. 

Honored to announce, officially, that I have been nominated to serve as Secretary of State. If confirmed, this is a mission I will take on with my full heart.

— Antony Blinken (@ABlinken) November 23, 2020

The newspaper described 58-year-old Blinken and 43-year-old Sullivan as "old faces," who are "likely to take a more rational and pragmatic approach toward China."

One of China's biggest objections to the Trump administration has been the president's most loyal chief diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has ruffled and challenged Beijing at every turn.

Blinken would take a "softer" stance on China, Global Times quoted Renmin University of China's Professor Diao Daming as saying.

However, the Chinese leadership recognizes that four years of anti-China Trump policies, including a recent executive order banning U.S. investment in Chinese companies with ties to the military, will be difficult for Biden to reverse. Bipartisan mistrust of Xi Jinping in Congress may also prove to be too big a hurdle for Chinese soft power alone to overcome.

Chinese state media claims Beijing is ready to respond to further antagonistic and unpredictable moves by President Trump in his final weeks in the White House.