What a Trump presidency means for US-China ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/9 19:48:39

Editor's Note:

Republican candidate Donald Trump won the US presidential election in a stunning victory against Hillary Clinton, sparking heated discussion worldwide about where a Trump-led US will go and how his government will interact with the world. The Global Times invited four prominent Chinese experts to share their ideas about the election and the future of China-US relations.

Supporters of Clinton and Trump react differently to the election results during the election night on Tuesday in New York. Photos: CFP

Supporters of Clinton and Trump react differently to the election results during the election night on Tuesday in New York. Photos: CFP

Supporters of Clinton and Trump react differently to the election results during the election night on Tuesday in New York. Photos: CFP

Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies, Renmin University of China

Trump and Clinton were neck-to-neck in the election campaigns, but I expected the result. Trump's victory may surprise many since earlier polls suggested that Clinton had an advantage over him. In fact, fundamental changes in US domestic politics have already taken place, and the election has highlighted the gaps between American grass roots and elites.

Trump is known for his isolationist tendencies, and his success suggests that at least half of all voters are suspicious of globalization. Populist and nationalist sentiments are rising in the US and even in Europe, which were manifested in the Brexit vote. This will bring fundamental changes to the global economic order.

Trump will fulfill his campaign promises, especially in regard to foreign policy, after coming into office. His China policy will surely have negative effects on Sino-US economic cooperation. The election, together with Brexit, demonstrates the decline of the West.

Under the circumstances, although the Chinese government will respect the US' strength, it may look down upon its fading political and social institutions. Generally speaking, Beijing will become more assertive in its dealings with Washington.

Jin Canrong, deputy director of the Center of American Studies, Renmin University of China

Trump shattered the expectations of many with his victory. According to a wide range of polls, Clinton had a strong advantage over her opponent. The result, however, suggests that observers underestimated the strength of grass-roots Americans. Trump's victory revealed a deep resentment among voters against an establishment that failed to address a number of social issues and the mainstream media that failed to take notice.

Trump is unlikely to fulfill his promises in terms of foreign policies. The US is a pluralistic democratic country. Trump, though elected, will be restrained by many factors and is not powerful enough to implement all his political ideas on his own. While Clinton advocates internationalism, encourages the US to bear more international responsibilities, and values cooperation with allies, the president-elect is known for his isolationist tendencies and prioritizing domestic interests over others.

Trump's victory will negatively influence trade between China and the US, as Trump vowed to impose a 45-percent tariff on Chinese imports to the US. Many observers have raised concerns over an impending trade war, which will exert tremendous negative effects on the global economy and Sino-US relations.

Lin Hongyu, president of the Institute of International Relations, Huaqiao University

Trump's victory does not come as a surprise at all. Those who are surprised may have been blinded by media coverage and polls rigged by US elites. Most voters do not have a say in mainstream media, but their opinion in social media diverges from what reports and polls show. They have voiced their true values with their votes.

Trump's election is a manifestation of the anti-globalization movement that stands in opposition to elitism, traditional values and political correctness. As globalization's negatively affected the lower economic classes of the Western world, the sentiment intensified. Trump managed to ride on the current.

The rotation of parties in US politics can hardly be avoided. Barack Obama's administration was not popular enough to carry the Democrats through. Besides, given Hillary Clinton's email scandals, the Democrats stood an even smaller chance to hold the presidency.

But Clinton's email scandal just days before the vote dealt a heavy, if not deadly, blow to her campaign, because it made a significant impact on most swing voters. Although Trump has also been mired in controversy, most revolve around his social values - which many even found entertaining. But Clinton's email scandal left many voters with the impression that the Democratic nominee may be a criminal and doesn't care about national security.

After taking office, Trump will not fulfill his campaign promises, such as building a wall along the US-Mexican border or withdrawing troops from Japan and South Korea, because he will meet with strong resistance. But he might impose heavy restrictions on immigration and unload some of the US' international responsibilities. Isolationism and conservatism will rise, and a Trump-led US government might shrink the country's capabilities around the globe.

Although Trump has never elaborated on his China policy, it is possible that, compared to Clinton, his stance might help revamp the bilateral relationship, especially in terms of geopolitics and national security. China will face less pressure from the US given the superpower plans to shift its attention from the world to itself. China will have a chance to play a more important role in advancing globalization in the international community as many Western countries are disturbed by domestic resistance to globalization. This will serve China's ambition well to be more involved in international affairs.

Li Haidong, professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University

Trump's win reflects that the general US public favors change over the status quo in US politics. With this election, voters hoped to reshape US political environment.

His victory also shows that Americans detest the political establishment, both rife with corruption and lacking in credibility. In other words, the rifts between elites and grass-roots Americans have run so deep that there was no room for compromise. The establishment did not address people's needs and failed to earn their trust. Trump took the opportunity to win wide support from ordinary Americans with his anti-establishment and anti-elite views. Yet he is an elite. I believe he can rebuild the lost trust between the American people and elites.

Trump's foreign policy will not adhere to his campaign promises, as seen with previous administrations. Many of Trump's promises are simply not practical.

Trump's influence on Sino-US relations will mostly be felt in economic sectors. Trade disputes between China and the US will be further explored, and existing economic relations will be deepened. Trump will center his China policy on economic issues, resulting in a strengthening of integration between China and the US, while at the same time intensifying points of dispute.


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