Trump’s China Policy Must Look Beyond North Korea
WASHINGTON - One of the most surprising developments in the first six months of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been the administration’s posture towards China. During the campaign, then-candidate Trump called China an “economic enemy” and said that it was “ripping us off.”
As April, Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at the U.S. president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, tweeting afterwards, “goodwill and friendship was formed, but only time will tell on trade.”
Last week, as the administration’s 100-day period to engage the Chinese on trade disputes wound down with little to show for it, the Trump team’s rhetoric was less positive, but still restrained.
Previous administrations have gone through similar transformations. On the campaign trail in 1992, Bill Clinton said he would pressure China on human rights using trade sanctions, before he as president oversaw the granting of permanent normal trade relations with Beijing over the objections of human rights groups.
At the beginning of his time in office, President Barck Obama initially flirted with the notion of a G2 that would have the United States and China set the course for the rest of the globe, before developing the “pivot to Asia,” to ensure that America was focused on the Asia-Pacific to balance China’s increasing power. But compared to these previous presidential transformations, the personal nature of Trump’s praise for Xi was more extreme.