Biden Era Likely to See Improved Ties Between Asia and US, Says Mahathir

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US partners in Asia are looking ahead for improved trade ties with the world’s largest economy after Joe Biden takes over. — AP

‘Trump used to be against almost every country, but now I think Biden would want to reverse that policy and have some understanding or friendly relations with many of the countries’

KUALA LUMPUR — As the days of Joe Biden taking over American administration nears, US partners in Asia are looking ahead for improved trade ties with the world’s largest economy. An important leader of the region, Mahathir Mohamad, has said that he expects the Biden era to be different from Trump, because the outgoing president “knew practically nothing about Southeast Asia.”

“Trump used to be against almost every country, but now I think Biden would want to reverse that policy and have some understanding or friendly relations with many of the countries, which in the past have been quite supportive of America,” Mahathir said in an interview recorded on January 7 and broadcast at the Reuters Next conference on Thursday.

Mahathir, who has twice been prime minister of Malaysia, said he believes Biden will not continue with “this silly trade war with China. There should be some attempt to maybe solve some of the problems of the imbalance in the trade, but to have the trade war is not something that I think Biden will continue.”

China and the US have been at odds since July 2018 over the latter’s demands for Beijing to adopt policy changes that would better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to US companies. Their trade war damaged global growth and upended supply chains over the past two years.

Mahathir said Malaysia, like most countries, needs to be more sensitive to what China wants as the Asian powerhouse was too big to confront on issues such as trade imbalances or human rights violations. “China has not treated Muslims there well, but we cannot confront them… we have to be very careful with how we deal with China,” Reuters quoted Mahathir as saying. — Agencies

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