China is apparently moving to prevent the incoming administration of president-elect, Joe Biden, from forming a new anti-China alliance in Asia in both the economic and military spheres.
It believes there's a higher chance Asian countries will ally with the U.S. militarily to foil its geopolitical ambitions under Biden's presidency due to the latter's penchant for international coalition-building compared to president Donald Trump's less effective lone-wolf diplomacy.
China will do all it can to prevent this military threat from occurring, said Control Risks, a London-based global risk and strategic consulting firm specializing in political and security risks.
"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.
He believes China's 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. China will be very keen to prevent that with every country involved."
Gilholm thinks China might move to diffuse a new Asian alliance against it by cozying-up more to Japan, India, and South Korea. China might pay more attention to Japan because of its close relationship with the U.S.
"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," said Gilholm.
As for Southeast Asian countries, the great divergence of their positions in China will render them more vulnerable to Chinese persuasion.
Economist Jim O'Neill, chairman of the United Kingdom think-tank Chatham House, argues Biden will make it tough on China on the trade and economic front by working with traditional U.S. allies and using traditional organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"It is my impression that the Chinese are more concerned by a Biden administration than a Trump administration," said O'Neill,
"And, they (Biden's staff) are going to use existing multinational fora to try and hold China to account more by the standards of such international fora whether it be WHO, G-20, World Bank, etc., etc., rather than this sort of ... negotiation style so loved of Trump," he noted.