Just as there were winners and losers in the poll, China can expect gains and losses as a result of the outcome. Mainland officials anticipated that a second term for George W. Bush would bring improved political relations with the US but poorer economic and security outlooks. Hong Kong will continue to ride on the mainland's economic coattails, while Taiwan will look on nervously now that US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said it is not an independent, sovereign nation. Observers agreed another four years of President Bush would bring little change in Sino-US relations. But Yan Xuetong, director of Tsinghua University's Institute of International Studies, said he believed the mainland's growing economic strength could prove problematic to relations. And although Mr Powell had made clear the Bush administration's support for the one-China policy, its military defence of the island would continue to cause friction. 'Symbolically, the relationship will improve but the economy and security will cause deterioration,' Professor Yan said. 'The US will be preparing for potential conflict over Taiwan and ties will be further strained as our economy gets stronger.' Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong, backed assertions that basic US policy towards China would not change, but suggested that much depended on who the secretary of state would be. Mr Powell's rumoured departure would change the equation, he said. 'The general orientations of the Bush administration's China policy will not change, but the adjustments in the foreign policy team may have some impact,' Professor Cheng said. 'The [mainland] side is very concerned that Powell keeps his position. They feel that he is the most moderate voice in the administration on foreign policy and they are quite eager to see him stay.' The Bush administration's policies on Iraq, terrorism and North Korea would remain unchanged, the analysts predicted, but its adherence to unilateralism would worry mainland officials. Still, mainland authorities preferred a known quantity in Mr Bush to the unknown approaches of Senator John Kerry, they concluded. Taiwanese felt the same, said Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, security analyst with the Taipei-based Council for Advanced Policy Studies. While Mr Powell's remarks had been viewed with disappointment in Taiwan, they represented an affirmation of America's commitment to ensuring peace in northeast Asia, he said. 'The US policy will be more pragmatic and aiming to prevent any possible conflict in the future in the Taiwan Strait,' Dr Yang said on the sidelines of a meeting in Shenzhen. 'The policy will be concentrating on how to de-escalate the situation between the two sides given there is no possibility of any kind of resolution to the dispute.'