SINGAPORE — The Biden administration will seemingly keep robust rhetoric towards China, a former Singapore diplomat mentioned Wednesday.

But it surely stays to be seen if the administration would take heed to different nations within the area earlier than implementing its insurance policies in direction of Beijing, Kishore Mahbubani, now a distinguished fellow on the Nationwide College of Singapore’s Asia Analysis Institute, informed CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“I believe there’s completely no query that the Biden administration has to look very robust on China,” he mentioned, including, “That is very clear as a result of there’s a sturdy bipartisan consensus inside the US that the time has come for the U.S. to face as much as China.”

He made his remarks Wednesday morning throughout Asian hours earlier than Joe Biden was inaugurated.

U.S.-China relations worsened considerably below President Donald Trump as the 2 superpowers fought a commerce conflict and are competing for technological superiority. In some situations, the U.S. sought to convey nations to its facet towards China. However in Asia, notably Southeast Asia, Beijing’s economic and political influence remains strong.

“The essential factor right here is will the Biden administration take heed to the nations of the area earlier than they implement any coverage in direction of China?” Mahbubani mentioned. He defined that if the Biden administration begins listening, it might uncover that there’s a very sturdy consensus in East Asia.

“Sure, you must be agency and robust on China, however we additionally need to get together with China. We’ve got to work with China. We would like our economies to get well from Covid-19. So that is the message you will get,” Mahbubani mentioned.

The united statesCapitol Constructing is ready for the inaugural ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden as American flags are positioned within the floor on the Nationwide Mall on January 18, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Joe Raedle | Getty Photographs

“On the finish of the day, I’m really optimistic that behind the very sturdy rhetoric, there’s additionally an understanding within the Biden administration that they set to work with the remainder of East Asia. And admittedly, additionally work with China on essential points like local weather change for instance,” he added.

U.S. return to Asia

Below the Obama administration, one of many cornerstones for America’s pivot to Asia was the Trans-Pacific Partnership settlement. Trump took the U.S. out of that settlement when he first took workplace in 2017.

The remaining 11 nations within the TPP went on to renegotiate the pact and signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2018. Final 12 months, China and 14 different nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which grew to become the most important buying and selling bloc on the earth, overlaying a market of two.2 billion folks and $26.2 trillion of worldwide output.

As such, the US just isn’t concerned in both of the mega commerce offers involving most of Asia’s distinguished economies besides India.

The TPP was a “present to the US as a result of it was a manner of anchoring the U.S. presence in East Asia, to make sure that this area does not develop into dominated by China,” Mahbubani mentioned.

He defined that unfavorable home perspective within the U.S. towards free commerce agreements, even ones that may be doubtlessly useful to the nation, would make it more durable for Washington to rejoin the brand new CPTPP.

“To do an actual pivot, the U.S. ought to discover methods and technique of coming again possibly in a really refined and oblique manner into the Trans-Pacific partnership,” Mahbubani mentioned.