Trump of­fers chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties

The un­cer­tainty that comes with Trump in the White House is both a chal­lenge and op­por­tu­nity for China.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton brought the cur­tain down on the chaotic US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Be­fore the votes were counted, how­ever, many Amer­i­can schol­ars, for­mer of­fi­cials and main­stream media said, and a ma­jor­ity of polls showed, Clin­ton had an edge over Trump. That’s why many re­fer to the final re­sult as an­other “Brexit”.

Al­though the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is over, its im­pact on the US is just be­gin­ning to un­fold. As the “Trump-San­ders phe­nom­e­non” re­vealed, US so­ci­ety is se­ri­ously di­vided over many so­cial is­sues, which could have neg­a­tive so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences.

Trump’s vic­tory re­flects the strong po­lit­i­cal sup­port he en­joys. And in­stead of sig­ni­fy­ing that the United States faces a gloomy fu­ture, it in­di­cates Amer­i­can do­mes­tic politics faces a new round of ad­just­ment and re­form.

But be­fore launch­ing any re­form at home, Trump has to deal with se­vere chal­lenges both on the do­mes­tic and diplo­matic fronts. One chal­lenge is how to deal with anti-glob­al­iza­tion sen­ti­ments among Amer­i­cans, a trend ev­i­dent in many other de­vel­oped coun­tries, and which re­sulted in Brexit in June and Trump’s elec­tion asUS pres­i­dent.

For years a ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple across the world, es­pe­cially those in theWest, sup­ported glob­al­iza­tion be­cause they be­lieved it was good for them, but theUS pres­i­den­tial elec­tion showed many Amer­i­cans now op­pose it. Glob­al­iza­tion has im­proved the lives of mil­lions of peo­ple world­wide, but not all have ben­e­fited from it. It is not the panacea for all the ills plagu­ing hu­mankind, as some peo­ple took it to be. The chaos in theMid­dle East has made peo­ple re­al­ize the lim­i­ta­tions of glob­al­iza­tion in re­solv­ing re­li­gious and eth­nic is­sues, and the 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis showed glob­al­iza­tion doesn’t mean sta­ble eco­nomic growth for­ever ei­ther.

But Trump has to re­al­ize that de-glob­al­iza­tion is not the answer to the problem. The wide gap be­tween the rich and the poor in theUS, if not nar­rowed, how­ever, will con­tinue to fuel pub­lic anger against glob­al­iza­tion. The data re­leased by theUS Cen­sus Bureau in Septem­ber are stark: the over­all in­come of the rich­est 5 per­cent is 17 times the in­come of the low­est­in­come group. Mak­ing mat­ters worse is the re­mark­able shrink­ing of the mid­dle-class pop­u­la­tion as wealth gets rapidly ac­cu­mu­lated in the hands of the rich­est group. This means theUS has lost its olive-shaped so­cial struc­ture with a huge mid­dle class.

Peo­ple are won­der­ing what Trump, as pres­i­dent, will do as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of de-glob­al­iza­tion and de-tra­di­tional politics to solve Amer­ica’s prob­lems.

Di­plo­macy is not Trump’s strong­est point. He doesn’t have any po­lit­i­cal or diplo­matic ex­pe­ri­ence, and hasn’t worked out a for­eign pol­icy. There­fore, he may de­vote his first and sec­ond years in of­fice to re­solve do­mes­tic af­fairs, in order to nar­row the dif­fer­ences be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats, as well as inUS so­ci­ety as a whole.

Trump’s slo­gan on the cam­paign trail, “Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again”, was fo­cused mainly on ad­min­is­tra­tion of do­mes­tic af­fairs. He did say dur­ing his cam­paign thatNATO was “past tense” and that he want­edUS al­lies such as Ja­pan and the Repub­lic of Korea to take more re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and con­trib­ute more for selfde­fense.

No one yet knows what Trump’s for­eign pol­icy and diplo­matic team will look like. As to his pol­icy to­ward China, Trump has said noth­ing ex­cept that he would take a tough stance on eco­nomic and trade mat­ters. TheUS’ China pol­icy may not be Trump’s top pri­or­ity im­me­di­ately af­ter as­sum­ing of­fice on Jan 20 next year, but it is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue that he has to care­fully con­sider.

The un­cer­tainty that comes with Trump in the White­House is both a chal­lenge and op­por­tu­nity for China. The chal­lenge is that China knows lit­tle about Trump, and the op­por­tu­nity is that he is known to be prag­matic and flex­i­ble. The author is an as­sis­tant re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can Stud­ies, China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

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