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China and Trump: retrospect and prospect
   2017-02-23 09:53:11    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liang Tao

By Wenshan Jia

It has been a few days more than a month since Mr. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

The rollercoaster ride consisting of his super-hawkish rhetoric against China he would articulate on his campaign trail, the hawkish attitudes towards China expressed by some of his key advisers, and his short-lived wild play of the Taiwan card was suddenly ended (or at least paused) by his mindful acceptance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's request during the Xi-Trump telephone call on February 9, 2017 to adhere to the One-China policy.

President Trump's promise was soon followed and reinforced by his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's friendly meeting with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting at Bonn, Germany on February 16, 2017.  Tillerson is quoted saying to Wang Yi at the meeting at Bonn, Germany: "The definition of US-China relations can only be friendly."

Such a positive turn of the US-China relations , following the pattern of past US presidents' shifting attitudes towards China, is partially credited to quite a few reported mutual public diplomacy endeavors such as Jack Ma's meeting with President-Elect Trump about his company Alibaba's proposal to create 1 million jobs in E-commerce in the United States, followed by President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and Trump's grand-daughter's attendance at the Chinese New Year Party in the Chinese Embassy to the US at Washington D. C., and so on.

Partial credit should also be given to the comprehensive and authoritative consulting report "US Policy towards China, Recommendation for a New Administration" and its bi-partisan Task Force on US-China Policy co-chaired by Orville Schell of Asia Society and Susan Shirk of UCSD.
Last but not least, some credit should be given to Dr. Henry Kissinger who met and advised President-Elect Trump and Mr. Tung Chee-hwa who met Mr. Jared Kushner, President's son-in-law and adviser, both about US-China relations, to name only a few.

Of course, most credit should be given to President Trump who has executed this turn.

Such constructive intercultural communication between the Chinese parties and the American counterparts, revolving around the comprehensive interdependence of US-China relations, particularly economic relations, must have found a receptive ear in President Trump who has subsequently begun to make well-informed decisions about the US-China relations.

President Trump must have been made aware that a prosperous China and solid US-China relations can only help serve his "America First" principle and can only help him achieve his goal of "Make America Rich Again, Make America Strong Again, and Make America Great Again".

Given the comprehensive national power of China, its highest annual growth rate of 6.9% in the entire world, its vast market potential via its Belt and Road Initiative, and its win-win philosophy, a prosperous China and solid US-China relations can only benefit America in real terms.

President Trump's emerging pragmatic approach is palpably in sharp relief with Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton's ideological approach of liberalism in their pivot to Asia.

Looking ahead, the Trump-Pence Administration, adhering to its "America First" principle, will, in most likelihood, continue staying informed and educated about the growing complexity, comprehensiveness and vast potential of the US-China relations by using a growing number of such channels of communication and information about China and the US-China relations from the US, China, and beyond.

Only in this way can the Trump-Pence Administration take advantage of the US-China relations to serve its goal of "Make America Rich Again, Strong Again, and Great Again". 

Perhaps, after a careful calculation of the costs and benefits, the Trump-Pence Administration will eventually distance itself from Japan's scheme to drag the US into the business of containing the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific Region despite Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's frequent diplomatic efforts to persuade President Trump to do so.

The Trump-Pence Administration, despite the low approval rating of 38% domestically, is respected by the Chinese government for its dedication to serve the American people, especially its core electorate and the Chinese people have expressed their willingness to help in this regard. 

To build strong relations with a country such as China, one of the major stakeholders, can only enhance the Trump-Pence Administration's popularity and legitimacy both at home and abroad, and help realize President Trump's campaign promises to the American people. 

As a shrewd and successful businessman, President Trump must be not only acutely aware of this, but also has the wisdom and dedication to cultivate and maintain solid relations with China.

President Trump certainly has the freedom to consider other choices in building solid international relations such as with Japan, Russia, India, or European Union over China.

However, given the US-Russia relations gone sour due to the Michael Flynn Incident, this prospect is dim.

Germany, the economic engine of Europe, beginning to distance itself from the US, is already wooing China to partner with Germany in leading a new wave of globalization through its ambassador to China in his recent article in Financial Times.

Neither India nor Japan are as comparable as China in its role of a major engine propelling the world economy. While India is still 20 years behind China in its economic development, Japan has been struggling to barely maintain its status quo despite its cunning strategy to drag the US into the combative mode against China in order to boost Japan's own standing in the Asia-Pacific region.

In conclusion, President Trump, a shrewd and successful businessman, in collaboration with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a visionary global leader, will, in most likelihood, transform himself into a shrewd and successful statesman in the process of turning the US-China relations into mutually respectful, mutually lucrative, and mutually successful relations.

Both the US and China will have a better chance to realize its own dream on the basis of these qualities of the US-China relations. I believe that despite the fact that he is under siege by the liberal media in the US for various reasons, history will be kind to President Trump if he continues his mindful management of the US-China relations in collaboration with the Chinese president.

Wenshan Jia, Ph. D., Professor, School of Communication, Chapman University
Research Fellow, the National Academy of Development & Strategy, Renmin University of China

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