Ig­nor­ing China can­not make US great again

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s of­ten chang­ing for­eign pol­icy po­si­tions and un­ortho­dox diplo­matic ex­changes have made theUnited States an un­pre­dictable part­ner in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, es­pe­cially in Sino-US re­la­tions and Pa­cific af­fairs.

“The in­dis­pens­able na­tion” ap­pears to be iso­lat­ing it­self from in­ter­na­tional trade re­la­tions. Trump ter­mi­nated the Trans-Pa­cific Partnership agree­ment on his first day in the White­House.

End­ing the TPP trade pact means China can ex­pand its do­main of in­flu­ence in the Pa­cific Rim re­gion as oth­erUS al­lies and friends in­evitably look for a more re­li­able trade part­ner in the neigh­bor­hood. As these geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties set in, will his cam­paign prom­ises to “Make Amer­ica Great Again” even­tu­ally de­fault to “Mak­ing China Great Again” and make theUS a dis­pens­able na­tion?

China is tak­ing note that the “de­clin­ing” US is giv­ing up on its found­ing trade vi­sion and em­pow­er­ing it with China’s com­mer­cial mis­sion through the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. At the 21-mem­ber Asian-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Eco­nomic Lead­ers’Meet­ing in Peru last Novem­ber, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping reaf­firmed that China and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions would in­deed in­vite the TPP mem­ber-na­tions to join the Bei­jing-sup­ported Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Partnership.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the kiss of death the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would give the TPP, for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama warned of the detri­men­tal im­pact on theUS econ­omy of a pro­tec­tion­ist pres­i­dent in the White­House, but also on theUS’ cred­i­bil­ity around the world. Can­celling the colos­sal 12-na­tion Pa­cific Rim trade pact and even rene­go­ti­at­ing theNorth Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment are not panaceas for theUS’ so­cial de­cay, racial ten­sion, and eco­nomic prob­lems, which are largely at­trib­ut­able to tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, de­mo­graphic changes, cor­po­rate strate­gies and tax­a­tion struc­tures.

It is likely Trump’s on-the-job­train­ing will soon bring aware­ness that the checks-and-bal­ances in theUS po­lit­i­cal sys­tem mean run­ning the coun­try is dif­fer­ent from run­ning a pri­vate en­ter­prise.

Nev­er­the­less, Trump and his team will cer­tainly change course, es­pe­cially in deal­ing with China.

Like his other in­cen­di­ary rhetoric dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump has ac­cused Bei­jing of be­ing re­spon­si­ble for “rap­ing” theUS with its trade poli­cies. When he re­al­izes the mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial trade re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and theUS is more com­pli­cated than that, Trump will have no choice but to strengthen the evolv­ing China-US bond with­out los­ing out to the Chi­nese lead­er­ship and its rule­mak­ing power in the global trade ar­chi­tec­ture.

Ig­nor­ing China would be a mis­take. The Sino-Amer­i­can re­la­tion­ship has been mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial for both coun­tries. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can hardly “Make Amer­ica Great Again” with­out mak­ing “China Great Again”.

TheUS still de­pends on the global sup­ply chain. When the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gins to deal with other coun­tries, the ele­phant at the ta­ble of ev­ery trade ne­go­ti­a­tion will be China.

The evolv­ing mul­ti­fac­eted bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship is in­trin­si­cally com­pli­cated yet mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial for theUS and China, which are con­nected through grow­ing trade, in­vest­ment and peo­ple-topeo­ple ex­changes. No mat­ter what the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion may have in store for China and the world, one thing can be pre­dicted: theUS must and will ac­cept China’s in­evitable rise.

As a self-pro­fessed ti­tan of deal­mak­ing, Trump could “Make Amer­ica Great Again,” by sim­ply em­brac­ing the found­ing vi­sion of Thomas Jef­fer­son for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons: “Peace, com­merce and hon­est friend­ship with all na­tions; en­tan­gling al­liances with none.”

... Trump will have no choice but to strengthen the evolv­ing China-US bond with­out los­ing out to the Chi­nese lead­er­ship ...

The au­thor is as an as­so­ciate-in­re­search of the Fairbank Cen­ter for Chi­nese Stud­ies atHar­vard Uni­ver­sity. The ar­ti­cle is an ex­cerpt of his com­men­tary on the chin­aus­fo­cus.com

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