United States President-elect Joe Biden administration is likely to be as tough as President Donald Trump's on the several contentious issues between Washington and Beijing such as the South China Sea, South China Morning Post reported citing experts.
'Given Biden's background [as a veteran lawmaker], we will see more heads brought to bear on the problems worldwide,' said Professor Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, at a virtual forum on Monday organised by the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines.
Southeast Asia specialist Carl Thayer, also speaking at the event, said there would be less pressure on regional states to take sides amid the US-China tensions.
The US alliance with Japan and South Korea would be 'less antagonistic' under Biden, whose officials were likely to hold 'informal talks over coffee' with stakeholders to 'come up with a strategy to push back' against China, said Thayer, emeritus professor of politics and visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales.
Yet the President-elect's stance towards Beijing hardened over the past decade: on the campaign trail.
He blasted Beijing for its actions in Hong Kong, dubbed its policies towards Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region as 'unconscionable', and called the Chinese president a 'thug'.
"This is a guy who does not have a democratic -- with a small 'd' -- bone in his body," Biden said during the February 25 Democratic Party primary debate with Bernie Sanders.
"This is a guy who is a thug and who in fact has a million Uygurs in reconstruction camps, meaning concentration camps."
In the same debate, Biden said he once told Xi that the US would defy China's no-fly zone in the South China Sea, and that 'we flew B-1 bombers through it', adding: "We're gonna make it clear, they must play by the rules -- period, period, period."
China has refrained from congratulating Biden on his victory in the high staked presidential election, saying the results of the poll 'will be confirmed according to US laws and procedures'.
In first response since Saturday, when Biden was announced winner of the 2020 elections, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said: "We have noticed that Biden announced being successfully elected, and, as we understand, the result of the presidential election will be determined in accordance with the US legislation and established procedures."
'In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Donald Trump soon after the Republican candidate's win in 2016,' South China Morning Post reported.
Asked on Monday when Xi would offer his congratulations, Wang Webin did not respond directly, saying only that China would 'act according to international customary practice'.