Chinese Communist leaders supposedly think in the long term. If so, they must be looking beyond the next US presidency. Whether it will be Joe Biden or Donald Trump, they more or less know what to expect. Certainly, there will not be much let-up in Washington’s anti-China stance. But what will be truly scary for Beijing, four years from now, is to see Mike Pompeo in the White House. A Biden win is likely to be Obama 2.0. He may be more consistent in his approach to negotiations with Beijing, but it’s unlikely he will go soft over fundamental conflicts in arms, technology and trade. As he re-engages with America’s friends, he may potentially create an awesome global alliance, economically and militarily, that has been undermined by Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. He may, for example, resume American leadership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Barack Obama’s signature trade achievement that was abandoned by Trump. A second term for Trump may see a worsening of trade disputes, technology rivalry and diplomatic spats. Accidental confrontations in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait may also be possible, as both countries step up sabre rattling in the region. But then, it may not, as the man is highly erratic and may decide to lower tensions for a time. A Pompeo presidency in 2024, however, would be a nightmare for Beijing. By then, Biden will be 81 while Pompeo will be a vigorous 60 years old. By all accounts a highly intelligent man, he is a religious conservative who at one time belonged to the alt-right Tea Party. Unlike Trump, he served in the military and was a West Point graduate. He is a Washington insider and served as a congressman for six years. Pompeo’s Asian tour reveals how much China influences US foreign policy Like the late George H W Bush, Pompeo once headed the Central Intelligence Agency. His experience as America’s spymaster shows in his anti-China diplomacy, as he single-handedly dissimulates and manipulates accusations and criticisms that make it hard for Chinese diplomats to keep up. His latest energetic Asian tour of India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Indonesia and Vietnam does not look like the initiative of a sunset administration, but a calling card laying the foundation, built on the containment of China, for his potential leadership in the region. From technology to arms, in whatever areas China needs to catch up, it better do it fast in the next four years. It needs to prepare for something much worse from Washington.