Trump redefining ‘US interests’

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/2 23:38:39

US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that the US will exit Paris climate agreement, drawing widespread criticism.

Trump clearly values actual strength over soft power. He places invigoration of US manufacturing and job creation above all else, and prioritizes enhancement of US military prowess. He probably believes that as long as the US remains the strongest in the world, it can get whatever it desires.

His method seems to be working somehow. Many political and business leaders promised to help the US create jobs. He came back from Saudi Arabia with a $110 billion weapons deal. He was rude with the US allies and most of them remained submissive.

Until today, there is no evidence to suggest that Trump's strategy is wrong. The grumble from media and some countries surrounding the US exit from the Paris climate deal can hurt neither the US nor its president.

Since entering the White House, Trump has trodden carefully with China. He corrected his previous statement regarding the one-China policy, established a comprehensive communication mechanism, and openly praised China's efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Trump's attitude toward China is based on the fact that China is more powerful than any single US ally and that Beijing pursues an independent foreign policy. He believes that exiting the Paris deal and TPP would not hurt the US but messing up ties with China would be harmful to the US and his political interests.

From this perspective, when dealing with Trump, one cannot expect for certainty and must prepare for changes.

So what would the US respect most about China in the long term?

The first would be China's military prowess, especially China's strategic nuclear capabilities. This is one of the first factors top US strategists would take into consideration when assessing China. The second is China's economic capability. Many US corporations have businesses in China and cannot afford to lose the market. The third is China's growing influence. Without China's cooperation, a lot of things cannot be achieved.

Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement shows that he doesn't care about things that would not affect his domestic support base. Therefore China should not expect to sway Trump with words or persuasion.

Trump values "America First" over international order, actual strength over soft power, domestic support over international applause, and voters' approval over media endorsement. He is not necessarily wrong and it is important for the rest of the world to understand his logic.



 



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