by Amna El Tawil
Lately, the relationship between China and the United States made it to the center of the media attention, particularly when the President-elect Donald J. Trump accused China of not being helpful regarding North Korea. This statement didn’t go too well in China, but it would be stupid to claim that Trump is to blame for the complicated situation we’re witnessing now. In fact, the United States have had a complex relationship with China and Russia for decades. To some extent it’s understandable; we’re talking about successful countries, great forces. As a result, the rivalry is born. In 15 days, Donald Trump will officially become 45th President of the United States and take on numerous obligations that come with the territory. One of these obligations is establishing positive foreign policy with other nations including Russia and China. So far, America has favored China, but it seems like Trump won’t go that way and he prefers Russia.
Throughout his campaign, the incoming president was outspoken about China and what he feels about the country’s politics. In 2015, while addressing supporters in New Hampshire, Trump commented his relationship with Mexico and China. He said: “I get along great with Mexico. I get along great. Thousands of people have worked for me over the years from all the Latin countries” and added “Oh would China be in trouble. The poor Chinese.”
In May 2016, Trump told a rally in Indiana that China was responsible for the “greatest theft in the history of the world”. He has long accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive globally. This has badly damaged US businesses and workers. Trump said: “We’re going to turn it around, and we have the cards, don’t forget it. We have a lot of power with China. We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.”
In his campaign manifesto, Donald Trump pledges to cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete. He sets out four goals that include immediately declaring China a currency manipulator and putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards.
Further commentary: this perfectly sums up why the President-elect isn’t a fan of China. The country manipulates not only the currency but trade, thus putting the United States into greater deficits, which are bad for the US economy. While the US aren’t in a recession anymore, it doesn’t mean everything’s fine and dandy with this aspect. Lots of improvements have to be made, more jobs created, and the only way to do so is, according to Trump, making sure that China doesn’t continue what they’re doing right now. End of commentary
Another reason that could explain why Trump prefers Russia over China is that his administration aims to dismantle Obama’s legacy, not only regarding Obamacare but foreign policy as well. Since it’s a well-known fact that Obama never favored Russia, it explains why Trump wants to go the other way. The incoming president is, also, looking to use international relations to pursue economic success.
While some analysts claim Trump fails to understand the crucial importance of long-standing US alliances that include China, others explain he’s utilizing a deeply strategic approach. Unlike Obama who tried to find the areas of common interest to build a good relationship with China, Trump’s administration opts for the contrasting measures.
Steven Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “It’s a sign of confusion if you’re making trouble with the Chinese at the same time as you’re making trouble with US allies in Asia, and it’s a sign of confusion if you’re trying to make up with Russia at the same that you’re not tending to American alliances in Europe.”
Matt Rojansky, head of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, deduced one reason could be Trump’s belief that the US should collaborate more with Russia in a bid to defeat terrorism and his view of that challenge as a “civilizational battle between radical Islam and, broadly speaking, the forces of Western civilization.”
Trump and his administration, especially national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, are comfortable including Russia under “Western civilization”, despite the fact that Russia is proud to be vs. West in just about anything.
Some political analysts also suggest that Trump is practicing a sophisticated version of the “triangular diplomacy” former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon used to play the Soviet Union and China off against each other in the 1970s.
Further commentary: New administration wants to move away from the practices of Obama and his aides, and favoring Russia seems like a natural course. Trump also despises the idea China is manipulating the trade and economic relationship between the two countries. While to some people it might seem that Mr. Trump doesn’t have a valuable plan, it does seem that everything’s a part of a well-crafted strategy. End of commentary
by Amna El Tawil