During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused China of damaging American workers by stealing what should have been their jobs. Even though he had some recurring promises in the campaign, he has shown the unpredictability during his term. Thanks to this, China has a chance to become a superpower more quickly than expected.
So far, Trump has crushing Beijing in the trade war in one moment, and he was saying that deals should be signed in another. He has been going on about $375 billion US trade deficit with China which distracts him from the real goals. Moreover, Trump’s relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping also puts him in the negative position. His exclusion of the United States from the global warming issues and global trade give Beijing additional leverage, on top of that, it opens up the opportunity for them to occupy the US’s current position.
Because Trump rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, China can easily persuade the US allies in Asia that the promises made by America are empty. And while the Americans are quarreling in the White House, China spreads its influence in Asia and the South China Sea. In the new National Security Strategy, Beijing is considered to be the competitor to “American power, influence and interests.”
Aaron Friedberg, who was in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and now works at Princeton University as a professor said: “While the administration at the bureaucratic level is trying to think and talk about long-term issues, the President himself is very focused on the short term.” China is now led by their strongest President in generations, and they are thinking decades and centuries in advance instead of just a few years.
Based on the evidence, Beijing has the edge over Washington in their relations recently. Although POTUS threatened to win the trade war against China he gave up on it because he realized that winning such war would be much more challenging than he thought. Ryan Hass, a former State Department, and National Security Council staff member said that Trump wanted to withdraw from taking action. He declared: “Whereas six weeks ago, the administration was running headlong at the trade issue, now it appears to be, at the most charitable interpretation, putting the pause button on things.”
The reception that the US reached with China wasn’t the best, which only showed that America was losing ground. Beijing was not forced to fold on some of the most bitter disputes with Washington even though it agreed to lower tariffs on auto imports. It only convinced Trump to pull back a threat to levy $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese products, but only after offering the purchase of US agricultural products.
Trade expert William Reinsch said: “We have been taken again. Last summer they played us. They played us again.” We are not familiar with the details of the deal at this point, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be sent to Beijing to sort things out. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted: “Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end, we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion.”
Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
This even outraged some of the Republicans and Marco Rubio tweeted: “I have urged @potus to follow his initial instincts on China & listen to those in his administration who understand that a short-term trade deal that sounds good but poses long-term danger is a #BadDeal.”
Even though Trump is being criticized at the moment, he is right when he says that the presidents before him could work out the deal between the two countries. POTUS has also been criticized for calling Chinese president his friend, and on Wednesday, he said: “I have a great relationship with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine. He likes me. I like him. That was two of the great days of my life, being in China. I don’t think anybody has ever been treated better in China — ever in their history.”
Meanwhile, the White House negates the fact that Trump has gone soft on Beijing. “We finally have a President who is actually calling out China on their unfair trade practices — and not just calling them out, but actually doing something about it, and aggressively pushing forward in negotiations, something that we haven’t seen in decades,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday.