In recent years, Americans’ perception of US foreign policy has shifted, with 51 percent of people indicating that Asian countries are more important to US relations abroad than European Union nations. As the most populated country in Asia and the second-largest economy in the world, China plays an extremely critical role in US foreign policy. Many question what US-Chinese relations will look like under a Trump presidency, with various scholars having differing opinions on the matter.
Donald Trump’s position on China has been hostile since he threatened to put a 45% tariff on Chinese exports. After the election, China struck back with an article published on its state-run newspaper warning of the consequences if the U.S. dares to start a trade war with them. They also condemned Trump’s denial of climate change.
This IVN independent author gathered the opinions of some experts and scholars in mainland China on their expectations regarding U.S. post-election policies toward China. Their views represent, to some extent, the views of the Chinese scholars and elites.
Many scholars views on US-Chinese relations actually remained unchanged by the election. They claimed that no matter who was elected, structural problems exist between the two countries as China continues to challenge America’s national identity and the US-dominated present global system. Tensions have been rising as of late, especially concerning the East Asian order and the South China Sea.
Yiwei Wang, the professor of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China and director of the Institute of International Affairs, believed that Hillary Clinton would win the election since she had the support of a majority of American elites. However, after the election, Wang realized that the level of dissatisfaction and opposition to globalization was a stronger force in American society.
Vice president, researcher, and doctoral tutor of the Institute of Information Studies in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Hui Jiang, said that Trump’s extremism and populist claims are neither accidental nor intentional. Rather, they are the product of the current economical, political, and social situation.
Xianghua Hong, professor at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC), sees Trump as less hawkish than Clinton, and pointed out that if she had been elected, Clinton would have continued the more involved policy of Advancing the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific. Trump, on the other hand, promotes a more populist agenda and is less likely to aid China’s neighbors such as Japan and South Korea.
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Chuntao Xia, has a relatively optimistic view. He said that no matter who comes to power, it will not be a big change for the US-Chinese relationship, although, the possibility of shocks and unexpected events will increase. It will be very important to maintain an amicable relationship with the US if China wishes to achieve its stated development goals by 2020.
Chengjun Zheng, the professor, director and Doctor from the Institute of Contemporary China Studies of Beijing Language and Culture University, stated that the US election cycle is really a show. Candidates frequently make outlandish promises which they do not follow through with. Donald Trump has always been tough on China, but when he becomes President, he will likely relax his stance on the US-Chinese relationship due to the deep economic ties between the countries. Moreover, relations with the US and China have always had a tumultuous history, and Congress will intervene before anything goes too far.