Can Trump be a powerful president?

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/10 23:18:39

Donald Trump's election as the next US president has created extraordinary uncertainty in the international community. From East Asia to West Europe, countries that have close or complicated relationships with the US are evaluating the consequences and likely scenarios. By now, anxieties and misgivings have got the upper hand.

China has long been a major consideration when the US makes strategic plans. Any change of direction or re-orientation will have significant impact on China. It is essential for China to understand the disposition and capabilities of the president-elect. The first question is can Trump exert strong leadership or will he be checked?

Trump looks tough, resolute and unconstrained. But his leadership won't be a full reflection of his personality. Although the Republicans are in control of both houses, it doesn't mean there will be an easy road ahead for Trump. Trump has no deep connection with political circles, and his relationship is strained with the entire elite, even among his own party. It will be particularly difficult for him to employ his governing philosophy within the system.

When Trump is regarded as an outlier in US political circles, his decisions will be greatly weakened. To ease tensions with those who actually govern the country will be massively energy-consuming. Trump will have to behave himself upon his induction and avoid causing a crisis out of capriciousness.

All these checks and balances will weaken Trump's spirit. The trade-off between the two sides will shape his own governing style.

A Trump-led US is anticipated to embrace isolationism and shrink its international influence. The president-elect wants to shake off more international responsibilities and focus on domestic affairs. But due to the opposition, the shift might not be so prominent that it can make a big difference.

But it can be expected that the US will halt projecting more strategic capabilities around the world. Besides Trump's own tendencies, the US is not powerful enough to maintain its global hegemony. President Barack Obama is barely able to prop up the current situation, but Trump will make it go down.

It is unlikely that China and the US will engage in more conflicts. Trump is not interested in upping the ante by launching more challenges against China because of his inclination toward domestic affairs.

But still, it is possible that in the initial stage of Trump's presidency, he might bash China to establish authority as a new commander-in-chief. Beijing should be prepared for Trump's blows.

Generally speaking, Trump is unable to show real toughness. He lacks sufficient financial support and true allegiance and solidarity from the elite. Too many distractions and a highly divided nation will make Trump reluctant to raise antagonism with China. Without unity inside, a major power won't be determined to make troubles outside. If Trump tries to sound China out by provoking tensions, China should respond decisively and fearlessly, setting the tone for interaction with Washington.

Posted in:

blog comments powered by Disqus