Trump’s radical China policy irritates ordinary Americans

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/18 19:35:04

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The latest figures from a July 30-August 12 Gallup survey of 1,031 US adults show that 41 percent of the polled approve of US President Donald Trump's handling of foreign affairs, which is down from 48 percent in early February. Roughly 57 percent disapprove of the president's handling of relations with China specifically. The poll results didn't clarify how the survey was configured and whether those frowning on Trump's China policy believe it's too tough or not tough enough. It comes as no surprise if their disapproval stems from dissatisfaction with Trump going too far in his China policy. 

The Trump administration's current China policy is overdone and unreliable. Those who have a sober and clear understanding of China-US relations will never support Trump's policy. Devoid of rationality, the Trump administration has gone too far in smearing, suppressing and containing China. The US is implementing a radical China policy that could destroy bilateral relations. 

The Trump administration is scapegoating China for its own disastrous response to the COVID-19 epidemic by alleging China as "a liar to cover up the pandemic" and "a vicious spreader of the virus." Many Americans may not buy it. Some Americans may support the US to deal with China in a harsher way than the one adopted under the former president Barack Obama administration. But they don't believe the US should go so far as to take nosedive with bilateral relations - as the Trump administration is doing.  

With the Trump administration becoming increasingly radical in dealing with China, more Americans have come to realize that the damaged China-US relationship has been detrimental to their own interests. It has damaged the recovery of the US economy, and the US' epidemic controls. It will also lead to job losses, and even soaring prices. The negative effects brought on by worsening China-US relations are obvious.  

Now the Trump administration is trying to make China a main campaign topic of the 2020 presidential election. 

Given the awful US economy, botched coronavirus response, and almost no diplomatic achievements to boast, the only thing Trump can do is play the China card. 

But for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, a preferred election tactic is to attack Trump on domestic issues, rather than making China policy a priority. The Biden team would rather make an issue of the domestic woes, and lead the public to focus more on Trump's lack of experience in governing the country. They point to his incompetence and lack of moral standards to rule the country. US coronavirus cases have surpassed 5.4 million with over 170,000 deaths. This tragedy is bringing in huge economic losses. But there is still no sign that the US can overcome the crisis in a short period of time.  

Although Biden doesn't want to make China the main topic in the election campaign, he has to compete with Trump over who is tougher on China under the current toxic election atmosphere. His main purpose is to prevent Trump from using China to score political points. 

Current China-US relations haven't hit rock bottom, but they will continue to plummet. In order to win the election and garner attention, Trump will continue to take hard-line and provocative measures against China. 

If odds and polls show Trump losing, he may employ reckless escalations against China. The Trump administration will do whatever it could at any cost to win reelection. As such, with less than three months before the election, this is a very dangerous period for China-US relations.

We should not have unrealistic expectations about the American public's power of opinion. They cannot stop Trump from lashing out as long as he is in power. However, they have the power to think about possible pains they will suffer from worsening China-US relations - and how they really cannot afford them. 

As a matter of fact, many Americans have felt this pain already. 

With less than three months to go before the election, the Trump administration will throw everything it has to attack China. Public opinion won't have a substantial impact on the Trump administration's China policy. We must keep sober to this. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui based on an interview with Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University.


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