As the 2020 United States presidential election vote count enters its second day, Hong Kong is keeping a close watch.
Under President Trump, relations between China and the United States have turned sour, as Trump has taken a more hawkish foreign policy towards China, with Hong Kong caught in the crossfire.
Last year, the president signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, mandating an annual review of Hong Kong’s autonomy to warrant its special treatment under United States law. Earlier this year, the president revoked Hong Kong’s special trading status with the United States and sanctioned 11 Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese officials, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
These actions have made Trump a popular figure among Hong Kong’s democracy movement, who welcomed his harsh stance on China.
Among Trump’s supporters are prominent members of Hong Kong’s democracy movement such as Jimmy Lai, owner and founder of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Free Press, Lai acknowledges that a Biden presidency will not shift attitudes towards China, but feels that Trump has a stronger stance against China. “I think Trump knows how to deal with China. He plays hardball and he is a man of his word, and he is really powerful in the way he deals with dictators.” Lai said.
“People here know that if Trump gets elected, we will have greater support. That’s the impression, whether it’s going to be true or not. I share the same impression.” Lai added
On the other hand, this view might not be accurate according to Dr. Austin Strange, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Hong Kong.
“There is a bipartisan consensus among policymakers regarding the threat posed by a rising, more active China to the prosperity and values of the United States. While the election results will not likely change the ends of the current U.S. strategy toward China, it will likely alter the means.” He said.
Dr. Strange adds that Biden will likely prefer multilateral initiatives that leverage existing allies, whilst Trump would continue with his unilateral foreign policy initiatives toward China. However, he cautions that the election outcome will not see tension between China and the U.S. ease in the short term.
As of 19:00 HKT, the vote count for the 2020 United States Presidential Elections is still ongoing. According to Reuters, incumbent President Donald Trump has 214 electoral college votes, whilst former Vice President Joe Biden has 243 electoral college votes, with neither candidate reaching the required 270 votes needed to win the election. This election comes amid the end of a controversial four-year term for President Donald Trump, as the United States comes to grip with the COVID-19 pandemic that has left 217,348 Americans dead according to the United States Centre for Disease Control.