Trump era signals dramatic changes

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/21 8:41:54

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the US on January 20. He made an inauguration speech with his unique persona, which has drawn complicated reactions in and outside the US.

In the presence of former presidents, Trump launched a sweeping criticism of US domestic and foreign policies over the past decades. He said it was "not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another," but wrestling power from Washington DC and giving it "back to you, the people."

Trump lashed out at "a small group" for reaping the "rewards of the government" while "the people did not share its wealth." He stressed patriotism and reiterated "America first."

He swore to eradicate radical Islamist terrorism "completely from the face of the Earth."

He is indeed different, in many aspects, from most of his predecessors. First, Trump seemed less than gracious to ignore how his predecessors and political dignitaries might feel insulted by his criticism. Moreover, he believes the US domestic policies and world order have strayed off track, and vowed to change the situation.

Trump indicates that dramatic changes lie ahead for the domestic political structure and global economic order. Some Chinese Internet users even mocked his promise of dramatic changes as a possible US version of the "Cultural Revolution." With the tremendous balance of power in the US, it's uncertain if his personality will help him turn his goals into reality.

His speech shows he would continue to "revolutionize" the underdogs of society to lead them in their fight against Washington elites. However, the working class goals he has set out look contradictory to his appointments of the largest number of successful business leaders to his cabinet throughout US history.

On the world stage, Trump will likely align his foreign policy with US corporate interests, blurring the lines of ideology or political values. Frictions between the US and its allies, and trade tensions between the US and China, seem inevitable within the four years ahead.

Although Trump has spent a lot of time talking about China over the past year, his actual China policy has yet to take shape. Definitely, the Trump administration wants to boost exports to China and relocate factories from China back to the US. Taiwan will be merely a bargaining chip for Trump to put trade pressure on China.

Trump did not mention "universal values," but that does not mean his administration will refrain from putting pressure on China. His China policy will hinge on how well he understands the overlapping interests of the two countries, how their interests intertwine, and whether he is motivated to change the existing structure with force.

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