No need for China to worry about 'M-size' Trumps like DeSantis
Published: Aug 06, 2023 09:22 PM
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Photo: VCG

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Photo: VCG

If the real Donald Trump is an L-size candidate, then Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is an M-size Trump.

The Republican candidate, described by the US media as "Trump with a brain," soon shrank in popularity to an M-sized Trump.

When DeSantis announced his candidacy for the 2024 US elections in May, he appeared to be in full swing and an XL-sized.  

It wasn't that Trump had any more precise policies that attracted more voters, but that DeSantis's policies apparently weren't effective enough to get him out of Trump's shadow.

In a recent fundraising email for the 2024 US presidential election, Trump claimed that he could face up to 561 years in prison as the US Department of Justice is attempting to prosecute him on various charges. But Trump's leading position as the next Republican presidential nominee has not been shaken. 

In mid-February, DeSantis lost to Trump by just two points in a poll (39 percent to 41 percent). And the average of polls through July 31 (FiveThirtyEight polls) showed Trump with a commanding 37-point (53 percent) lead over DeSantis. The other 14 evenly matched candidates had at most 6 percent of the vote.

DeSantis campaigned on a "10-point economic plan" to appeal to the right wing. He proposed tax cuts, energy independence, limiting "unskilled" immigration, and defending ultra-conservative positions on social issues such as abortion rights and gender.

In line with this policy preference, his China policy has made it a priority to remove China's "most favored nation" trade status and prevent companies from sharing critical technologies with China.

Like some other candidates, DeSantis continues to use the "China card" as his main scoring card. While stressing the need to fight for the middle class, he said he wants to regain "economic control" from China and has repeatedly called China "the No. 1 geopolitical threat" for the US.

But, DeSantis has yet to offer anything new. His proposals to end China's preferential trade status, ban the export of US intellectual property and prevent US companies from sharing key technologies with China are no different from what Trump has already done and what the Democratic Party's Biden administration is doing. 

From Trump to Biden, through the US-launched "trade war," "science and tech war" against China, the cards are almost all out. As for the effect of these cards, they look like a series of fierce punches in the beginning, but China's response, following the principle of "softness conquers strength" in Tai Chi, has resulted in their fatigue. Now, China is ready to launch its counterattack.

DeSantis attempted to exploit the "China card" to bolster his image and garner more votes. This tactic is outdated and ineffective. Although it may further deteriorate the already negative public perception of China in the US, it no longer appeals to voters.

More and more Americans understand that problems in America are its own and cannot be solved by suppressing and containing China. China does not hold the key to unlocking the toolbox of the White House.

Trump's approval ratings are rock solid. Rather than the sinister image of "Trump placing a dagger at the throat of democracy," as Biden described it, what we can see is the norm of political chaos in the US.

The polarization of US politics is not conducive to any ruling party's approach to stabilize US-China relations. However, such a norm constantly erodes the foundation of the strategy of making America great again, which has been inherited from Trump to Biden, making this ambitious goal look increasingly vague and unattainable. 

If the large-sized Trump did not significantly impact China, there is no need to worry about the smaller-sized Trumps as all they do will only create more noise.