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China is extra affected by Biden than Trump, says economist Jim O & # 39; Neill

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Jim O & # 39; Neill, former Chief Economist of the Goldman Sachs Group, in Italy in 2019.

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON – Joe Biden's presidency will be a bigger problem for the Chinese government than nearly four years of Donald Trump's administration, economist Jim O & # 39; Neill told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Friday.

Trump took a different approach to US-China relations by unilaterally imposing tariffs on Beijing. The outgoing president often took to Twitter to lambast the Asian power plant's trading practices and sparked a trade war with China that weighed on the global economy.

This was very different from a European approach, which often pushed for trade disputes with China to be negotiated using traditional institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the G-20.

President-elect Biden is also likely to push these agreements at a multilateral trading table, which could mean more concrete measures in dealing with China.

"My impression is that the Chinese are more affected by a Biden administration than a Trump administration," said O & # 39; Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs and now chairman of the UK think tank, Chatham House, and suggested that the Biden team has "stronger philosophical beliefs" on key issues.

"And they (Biden's staff) will use existing multinational forums to try to hold China more accountable according to the standards of such international forums, be it WHO, G-20, World Bank etc. etc., rather than this sort of .. . Negotiating style so loved by Trump, "he added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called Biden earlier this week to congratulate him on his election victory. According to media reports, Xi hoped that both countries would uphold the spirit of "non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect" in dealing with their differences.

One of the many points of tension between the US and China was climate change. Before the Trump presidency, Washington and Beijing often argued about how to combat elevated CO2 levels.

However, US climate ambitions changed with Trump, and pressure on China to step up its emissions efforts cooled somewhat. Beijing changed its stance and announced in September – just weeks before the US presidential election – its goal of reducing CO2 emissions to zero by 2060.

"In a strange way, it could already force China to think a little differently," said O & # 39; Neill of the US election's impact on China.

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Katherine Clark