Michael Hirson, Eurasia Group’s practice head for China and Northeast Asia, said the secretary of State’s remarks got as close as he could to calling for a regime change in China. But with the U.S. presidential election nearing, Chinese policymakers are unlikely to react in way that would “fundamentally” change the two countries’ relationship, he said.
“So they’re, to some extent, absorbing these body blows and I think waiting for after the election to decide where Beijing wants to take this relationship,” Hirson told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.
“For the time being, they’re watching it evolve and are not prepared to take drastic changes that would change the way that Beijing is dealing with this new challenge from the U.S.,” he added.
Relations between the U.S. and China — the world’s top two economies — have been at their worst in decades. In addition to the countries’ ongoing trade war, both sides have recently sparred over a range of issues including the origin of the coronavirus and China’s move to implement a national security law in Hong Kong.
Russel said the “blame China” and “get tough on China” rhetoric in the U.S. means tensions between the two countries could worsen.
“This is sort of an immovable object meeting an irresistible force, there’s a lot of friction and it’s unlikely to end well,” he added.
— CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report