WHAT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY COULD MEAN FOR U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS
March 15, 2016
Donald Trump’s policies on China are being scrutinized as the prospect of his selection as the Republican party’s presidential nominee grows more imminent. The conclusion that foreign countries are “killing us on trade” has shaped his economic policies, most notably the proposed 45% tariff on imported goods from China. Claims that “On Trade, Donald Trump Breaks With 200 Years of Economic Orthodoxy” and similar analyses prompted Trump to explain this protectionist policy as merely a “threat” lest the Chinese government fail to negotiate a new trade paradigm with the U.S. at the GOP debate on March 8.
In both the U.S. and China, the jury is out on how his policies could influence relations between the two countries. Some commentators anticipate that Trump’s economic focus on the Sino-American relationship would introduce a kind of “pragmatism” to international diplomacy, thereby spurring the American economy while avoiding the sensitivity around Clinton’s “pivot to Asia” campaign that her presidency could inflame. China’s government would not necessarily object to additional foreign trade restrictions, as they might facilitate the Chinese economy’s re-balancing towards domestically driven consumption; yet except for reiterating their hope of a “positive policy” with China, Chinese party officials will not disclose any opinion on Trump’s candidacy due to the nation’s policy of “non-interference.”
The Chinese public has been more vocal about its attitudes on the presidential race through the micro-blog Weibo: a number are bullish on Trump because they are bearish on the U.S., whose downfall would be precipitated with Trump as president, they opine. There are those in the U.S. who agree with these Chinese micro-bloggers’ prediction, though they do not welcome that fate. Such a fate is hardly guaranteed, however. Only through continued scrutiny of Trump’s and the other candidates’ China policies will we gain a better sense of their implications.
For further information on Trump’s engagement with China, please see the following news sources and commentary:
Wall Street Journal – “China Returns Donald Trump’s Love-Hate”
Washington Post – “Donald Trump’s fans in China love him for being a strongman”
Compiled and edited by Juliet M. Tempest