By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
THE UNITED States would probably continue to try to check China’s expansionist stance in the South China Sea even under a new president, though in a less aggressive way, political analysts said on Wednesday.
“The US stance toward China will continue, though a presidency under Joe Biden would likely be less confrontational than a Trump presidency,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines, said in an e-mailed reply to questions.
Mr. Biden was likely to emphasize dialogue and multilateralism and work with allies to contain China, she added.
Reuters reported that Mr. Biden had won 220 electoral votes as of 3 p.m. Manila time on Wednesday, compared with 213 for Donald Trump, the incumbent. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.
Mr. Biden, however, might be more forceful than Mr. Trump on Philippine issues such as human rights and press freedom, Ms. Atienza said. She also said US foreign and defense policy toward the Philippines would continue.
Renato C. de Castro, an international studies professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said Mr. Biden would probably keep the “nurturing approach” and strategic patience of the Trump administration toward the Philippines.
“Trump basically saved the alliance after President Rodrigo R. Duterte got angry with then President Barack Obama,” he said in an interview via Zoom Cloud Meetings. He remained amicable by avoiding public criticisms of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, he added.
Mr. de Castro expects Mr. Biden to tone down the “sharp rhetoric” of Mr. Trump, but would probably continue his competitive approach toward China.
The Philippines would also benefit economically from a Biden presidency, which is expected to reverse Mr. Trump’s “America first” policy, said Jay L. Batongbacal, head of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
“A Biden presidency will probably try to backpedal from Trump’s confrontational postures, including his America first policy,” he said by telephone. This could encourage American investments in the Philippines, he added.
The Philippine government does not expect major changes in bilateral relations with the US whoever wins the election, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.
“The State Department ensures continuity as far as US foreign policy is concerned,” he said. “We don’t expect any major changes in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States.”
Mr. Roque noted that given time, Mr. Duterte could enjoy an “equally warm personal relations with whoever wins this election, even if it’s not President Trump.”