Home Contact Us  
   

US & South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5180, 15 November 2016
 

US Policy Orientation

Donald Trump and China: A Contest for Primacy
Srikanth Kondapalli
Professor, Chinese Studies, JNU
 

The dramatic win of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the US at the hustings has caught many a nation by surprise given the critical outreach of the country in the economic, political, strategic and military spheres of the world.

Trump’s foreign policies after assuming office from January 2017 have become major debating points in terms of their impact on the rest of the world. While Trump made several disparaging remarks during the heat of the election campaign, in the last three decades, there is a definite trend in the US of a huge chasm between electoral-time barbs and criticism of other countries, and the pragmatic policies followed while in office. If this trend continues, predictable outcomes in US foreign policy towards the rest of the world may be witnessed.

Traditionally, US foreign policy has veered between isolationism till World War II, and off-shore balancing through the hundreds of naval bases and facilities globally through controlled engagement policies or a mix of the latter policies. With over US$18 trillion in gross domestic product and by heading the 'new economy' of information and communications technologies, apart from its cutting edge military forces, US policies influence every nook and corner of the Earth, although interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have dented this US profile.
Trump has promised to make the US great again. He has also been critical of its uneven and costly relations with allies, and mounting trade deficits with China and its currency manipulation policies. If Trump expands cooperative relations with Russia as promised during the elections – thus making radical departures in US policy that has so far stressed further isolation in the backdrop of developments in Crimea – then China is likely to face US' wrath in the coming years.

More significantly, China has been challenging US' primacy in all the three new security domains – cyber, space, and maritime. This would constrain Trump’s plan to make the US great in the decades to come. While Trump may not flag the Democratic Party’s obsession with human rights violations in China, China’s contestation of US primacy in global and regional affairs is likely to be the flashpoint between the two in the coming years. Domestically, the new leadership in China since 2012 has jettisoned Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “keeping a low profile” and has instead had been following a policy to “accomplish something” -  which is protecting China’s interests abroad.

Despite his isolationist streak, Trump understands that China’s advances globally and regionally came at the cost of the US and Russia playing one against the other. Thus China became a swing state in the later part of the Cold War by aligning with the US and contributing to the disintegration of the then Soviet Union. Also, by joining the US-led globalisation process China became the largest trading country, displacing the US and its allies. By staying neutral in the Georgian and Crimean crises, China forced Russia to veer towards Beijing in the light of mounting European sanctions. Trump’s approach towards Russia thus will alter geo-strategic equations and expose Chinese vulnerabilities.

Trump is also aware that China has been attempting to force the US out of Asia since the USS Impeccable was shooed away from the South China Sea in 2009. Comments made by the Chinese President at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in May 2014 on Asian countries looking after their own security rubbed the US the wrong way. Weaning the Philippines and Malaysia away from the US camp has further curtailed US manoeuvrability in the South China Sea. Beijing's free trade policies vis-à-vis Australia, New Zealand, East Asia and other regions has added momentum towards the nudging of the US from these regions.

China unsuccessfully sold the US the idea of a “new type of major power” relationship at the Sunnylands meeting between Obama and Xi Jinping in June 2013, even as it denied a similar status to Japan and India. China is nudging the US to acknowledge Beijing’s 'equal' status with the US – a point Trump will find unpalatable in the coming years.

As a businessperson, Trump also noted in the election campaign the acute asymmetry in US' trade relations with China. Of the more than half a trillion in trade with China, Beijing has a surplus of nearly US$400 billion with the US. China, with its tight control over Renminbi valuation, artificially kept it as low as over 40 per cent, despite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accommodating it as a part of the global basket of currency in December 2015. This is hurting the US economy, as Trump noted during the election campaign.

Despite reaching out to Trump soon after the election results were known and despite the outwardly calm, China’s leadership is wary of the unchartered course of its relations with the US under the new presidency. Soon after the election results, while President-elect Trump made statements regarding the pursuit of pragmatic policies during his tenure, including being even in his policies with other countries, China is a concerned country.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Maritime Silk Road: Increasing Chinese Inroads into the Maldives

China and Japan: Will the Twain Never Meet?

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Building a Closer Developmental Partnership

India-China Bilateral Under Narendra Modi

China and the Ukraine Crisis: Walking on the Razorís Edge

Political Democracy for Tibetans: Chinaís Rising Dilemma

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.