Influential academics in Beijing fear he will turbocharge his attacks to generate support and distract from domestic problems, such as unemployment and the devastating coronavirus death toll that has highlighted Trump’s slow response to the pandemic.
“These guys are crazy. There’s nothing they won’t do to hurt China, to try to destroy China, even when it comes at a cost that previous administrations believed unacceptable to the U.S.,” said Jia Qingguo, a professor of international studies at Peking University who advises the Chinese government.
“As the chances of him getting reelected diminish, we worry he will try to provoke a crisis with China.”
When Trump took office, many here thought that he was looking for a tweetable victory in his trade war with Beijing. Some quietly cheered him on, hoping that he might inject momentum into market-oriented reforms that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had promised but not delivered.