The world’s two largest economies, U.S. and China, have been hostile towards each other after President Trump’s tough protectionist stance. The hostility led to both imposing tariffs on imported goods and restricting the export of specific technologies. The two countries signed a Phase One trade deal in January.

The President-elect Joe Biden will take office in January and improving relationships with allies was one of his prime agendas.

How will the U.S.-China trade fare under the new administration?

Opinion: A former Singapore diplomat, Kishore Mahbubani, told CNBC that many Southeast Asian countries want to maintain “strong links” with the U.S., and Washington should not force them to choose sides between U.S. and China.

He said that Trump’s erratic policies made countries uncomfortable as it sought to bring countries on its side against China, referring to the Huawei debacle.

CNBC reports that China’s influence in the Southeast Asian region surpassed the U.S. before the pandemic outbreak.

Mahbubani said that the gap could grow wider in the coming years, but the region would continue to welcome the U.S. due to its massive investments.

There is a lot of reservoir of goodwill towards the U.S. that the country can tap on. Mahbubani added that the U.S. must play the long game and set global rules that everyone, including China, must conform to.

Eswar Prasad, a former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, said that the U.S. could cooperate with China on health care and climate change issues under the Biden administration, and China could be seen as a partner even if it’s not a close ally.

In his interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia,” Prasad pointed out that China has done a “reasonably good job” handling the pandemic and its fallout. He also added that the U.S. would not achieve much on the climate change front without China’s cooperation.

“I think the Biden administration will be much more strategic in its approach,” Prasad said.

Greg Gilligan, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said that the commercial relationship between U.S. and China wouldn’t change much under the Biden administration.

Both sides are under pressure to maintain a hawkish stance as domestic politics don’t allow for yielding ground to someone else, Gilligan told CNBC.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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