27 November
Written by Abigail Ng

Beijing is concerned that there’s a higher chance of countries in Asia partnering with the U.S. to counter China under President-elect Joe Biden – and wants to prevent that from happening, according to a political consultancy.

“I think the key for them really is to try and prevent the U.S. from being able to organize many or most of these countries into what China would see as a kind of anti-China coalition,” said Andrew Gilholm, Control Risks’ director of the analysis practice for Greater China and North Asia.

Tensions between the U.S. and China have risen under President Donald Trump as the administration pushed an “America first” agenda, often taking a unilateral approach instead of coordinating with allies.

Reuters reported that the foreign ministers of Japan, India and Australia kept their statements vague at last month’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in Tokyo, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly criticized the Chinese Communist Party.

That looks set to change under Biden’s leadership. He has emphasized the need for the U.S. to work with other countries, and his pick for head of foreign policy, Antony Blinken, supports that strategy.

Gilholm told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” that Japan, India and South Korea are economically important to China, but that Beijing is well aware of Tokyo’s relationship with Washington.

“China has no illusions about Japan’s close alliance with the U.S., and to a lesser extent, South Korea’s, although President Moon Jae-in in Korea has been a bit keener to balance that with China relations,” he said on Thursday.

In Southeast Asia, there’s a “great divergence” between countries in terms of their positions on China, he added.

“But I think for China, their concern is that, with the end of the Trump era, the prospects for the U.S. coordinating its China policy with a lot more of these countries has improved,” he said. “China will be very keen to prevent that with every country involved.”