Home » international news » Report: Another Donald Trump term may enable China to expand its influence in Asia-Pacific

Report: Another Donald Trump term may enable China to expand its influence in Asia-Pacific

News Agencies | Updated on: 11 July 2020, 13:10 IST
r Donald Trump term may enable China to expand its influence in Asia-Pacific

US President Donald Trump, these days may be engaged in imposing "reciprocal measures" on China and expecting the Chinese Communist Party to desperately back a Democrat leader in the upcoming US presidential elections scheduled to be held in November.

However, this is not true.

From Beijing's perspective, a Democratic presidency may restore a more predictable form of American diplomacy that may not best serve Chinese interests. In fact, four more years of Trump -- though likely packed with annoyances and disputes -- might present tantalising opportunities for China to expand its influence around East Asia and the world, Michael Schuman said in his opinion piece published in 'The Atlantic' magazine on Tuesday.

Substantiating his argument further by citing certain examples, Schuman, the author of "Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World' and 'The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth", recalled a highly unusual comment by the former Chinese trade negotiator, Long Yongtu, saying, "We want Trump to be reelected, we would be glad to see that happen".

The president's tweets make him "easy to read," Long reportedly told a Shenzhen conference late last year, and thus "the best choice in an opponent for negotiations".

In May, Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the Communist Party-run newspaper Global Times, tweeted at Trump that the Chinese "wish for your re-election because you can make America eccentric and thus hateful for the world. You help promote unity in China."

Hu added that "Chinese netizens call you 'Jianguo,' meaning 'help to construct China.'"

Long and Hu may not be speaking for the Beijing leadership, but no Chinese official or state-media figure would risk making such statements in public if their views were taboo in the inner circle of power, Schuman said.

Although Trump has sometimes acted on political and human-rights issues Beijing finds highly sensitive -- most recently, signing legislation to impose sanctions for the Chinese government's abusive treatment of minority Uighurs -- he personally has often appeared disinterested, even dismissive.

In a new book, Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton claimed that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping over dinner in Osaka that the detention camps Beijing were building to control the Uighur community was the right thing to do.

Trump also recently admitted that he delayed sanctions on officials involved with the camps to smooth negotiations for his coveted trade deal with China, the article stated.

The US President has more aggressively contested Beijing's controversial claim to nearly the entire South China Sea by increasing the frequency of naval missions sent through the disputed waters to uphold freedom of navigation, but he has not followed that up with any consistent diplomacy in South-East Asia, and he himself has generally ignored the issue.

"China's leadership is pretty confident that, while they have not won the South China Sea. They are certainly winning," Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Schuman.

Preventing that will require a collective international effort led by the United States, but "you can be pretty certain that is not going to happen under the Trump administration," Poling was quoted as saying.

Here lies the main reason why Beijing may not mind another Trump term.

While former US President Barack Obama attempted a "pivot" to Asia, Trump has only taken an occasional interest in the region, especially beyond trade and his fleeting dalliances with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Previous presidents tried to pressure China within the rules of the current global order, Trump prefers to act outside of that system.

As Washington steps back, China tries to lurch forward. Beijing has become more and more assertive over the course of the Trump presidency. The Chinese propaganda machine is capitalising on Trump's woeful response to the coronavirus pandemic to mock the president and American democracy, raise doubts about US global leadership, and offer up China as a more responsible world power, Schuman said.


Also Read: US President Donald Trump to sign immigration bill to protect 'Dreamers'

First published: 11 July 2020, 13:10 IST