9 November 2020

Insights on the 2020 US Presidential Election for the 7th FC Global Business Series

Insights on the 2020 US Presidential Election for the 7th FC Global Business Series  

Business China was pleased to partner Milken Institute to co-organise the final FC Global Business Series of the year held on 6 November 2020.

The session themed “2020 US Presidential Election Special: The Future of US-China Relations and its Impact on ASEAN” focused on the closely watched 2020 US Presidential Election. Professor Danny Quah, Li Ka Shing Professor in Economics and Dean at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Mr Victor Gao, Chair Professor of Soochow University and Vice President of the Centre for China and Globalisation and Mr Frank Lavin, CEO and Founder of Export Now were the esteemed speakers for this panel session. Moderating the session was Mr Chia Kim Huat, Regional Head, Corporate & Transactional Practice of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.  

CEO of Business China Ms Tin Pei Ling gave the welcome remarks whereby she commented that people around the world were paying close attention to the US Presidential Election, which was still ongoing during the point of the event. Regardless of the election outcome, there will be immense and profound impact to the world.

Moderator Mr Chia set the scene for the session whereby he commented that the relationship of the world‘s two largest economies has been impacted by the trade war as well as the spillover effects to areas such as technology, health and finance. At the time when the  webinar took place, the world was still anxiously waiting for the outcome of the US elections, the question then centred around how the US election result would affect the relationship with ASEAN and China moving forward.  

Mr Frank Lavin started the session with  an overview on  the state of the US-China relationship over the years. Since Kissinger and Nixon’s visit to China, the stability of the relationship was very useful to both countries and there had been significant improvement over time. He acknowledged that there will be divergence between the two countries due to different interests, level of development and culture. He also expressed his worry on the lack of commitment in managing these differences. He hoped  that there might be a window for reset of these bilateral relations should Biden be elected, which might start the positive dynamic and promote conversation between both countries.

Mr Victor Gao remarked that the US elections had been generating a lot of impact around the world. Using the example of the Tonya Harding Syndrome, he emphasised the need for both countries to be open and reassuring; moving forward,  so that both countries can get along despite the differences. He also echoed Mr Lavin’s sentiment on the possibility of a reset in the bilateral relations under Biden’s administration and re-engage each other.

Prof Danny Quah hoped that the new administration after the US elections will embark on a more moderate, reasoned path in the future. He cautioned that while it is essential to be mindful of the ongoing US-China tensions, the global community should also keep in mind the vision of globalism and global competition as a way to progress and move forward.

A range of poll questions were also raised throughout the session to find out more about the attendees’ views on the main cause of the strained US-China relations, the likely trajectory of the bilateral relations as well as the key foundation of China and US relationship with ASEAN respectively. The results of the poll were as indicated in the infographics below.

The panellists also gave their take on the results of the poll survey. Prof Quah stressed the importance of multilateralism rather than countries focusing on just bilateral relations while Mr Lavin drew comparisons of the differences in perceptions towards ASEAN by the Americans and Chinese. On the question on how should ASEAN work together and not forced to take sides, Mr Gao suggested that ASEAN could be a good intermediary and also highlighted the importance of greater integratio n and connectivity within the organisation and also other countries in terms of physical, political, financial areas.

For the closing remarks for the session, the panelists expressed their desire for both the United States and China to find common ground for the mutual benefit of the global world. As moderator Mr Chia had succinctly summarised using the Chinese saying “求大同,存小异”, which means to seek common ground and reserving small differences, this will help to achieve a more peaceful, stable and prosperous world.

The session was well received and garnered a total of 223 attendees, with the support of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Institute of Directors, SG Tech, Singapore Retailers Association and Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. Bank of China, OCBC and Temasek were the special partners for the event.