Donald Trump talked tough on China during his presidential run, blaming the country for the loss of American jobs, lobbing accusations of unfair currency manipulation or hostile trade practices, and suggesting that the United States levy enormous tariffs on Chinese goods.
“Look at what China is doing to our country,” Mr.Trump said in September, during a presidential debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China,” he added. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us.”
Several analysts predicted that Mr. Trump’s tough talk on tariffs and jobs will recede as he contends with the complexity of intertwined economies and the reality of China’s military expansion.
Mr. Trump held a precedent-breaking phone call with Taiwan’s president last month, which threatened to reopen a largely dormant ideological fight over self-determination and democracy in the separately governed island China considers a province. He also berated China for failing to curb hostile actions by its ally North Korea.
Some in China’s leadership who had been confident that they understood Mr. Trump’s business-minded approach questioned whether they were now dealing with an old-school Republican ideologue.
That creates new and uncertain ground for perennially troubled U.S.-China relations as Mr. Trump faces a rising power increasingly willing to challenge U.S. military and economic dominance.
Mr. Trump also inherits long-standing challenges from an Obama administration that has little to show for its effort to frame a new relationship with China and its neighbors. After President Barack Obama’s optimistic “pivot to Asia” foundered, Mr. Trump is getting advice to redefine U.S. policy in the Pacific region on get-tough military as well as economic grounds.
That’s harder than it seems, experts on China said, and it is not yet clear where Mr. Trump wants to go.Read More...
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