Opinion / Center

2016 US election: Will US-China relations change?

By Dan Steinbock ( Updated: 2016-10-13 15:45

After one of the most degrading races in postwar history, US presidential campaigns are getting dirtier still. But will US-China relations change?

As Wikileaks has disclosed information about Hillary Clinton’s emails, Benghazi scandals and deep ties with Wall Street, her campaign, with its cozy media relations, is promoting Donald Trump’s obscene tapes and comments on women.

In the first US presidential election that has been “Kardashianed,” Clinton has a 5-10% lead against Trump. However, the US Electoral College is ruled by winner-takes-all principles, which give Clinton about 260 and Trump about 165 electors, while some 115 remain undecided. They are the ones Clinton and Trump are now courting - with big money.

After marginalizing her Democratic center-left opposition, Clinton’s campaign has raised almost $375 million, plus $145 million from big lobbyists. In contrast, Trump has failed to unite the party behind his campaign. As a result, he has raised less than half of Clinton’s total and is shunned by most big donors.

Clinton’s America: Sticks, carrots - and sticks

According to US-based Pew’s survey, the Chinese are divided about Hillary Clinton. More than a third have a favorable view of her, another third has an unfavorable opinion and the rest has no view.

After all, Washington’s pivot to Asia – a de facto effort to contain China’s rise – was first presented by Clinton as President Obama’s foreign secretary. In that role, she also promoted the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for Asia, but to beat her Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders, she turned against it. As president, she could flip-flop again and support the TPP. She has also threatened to accuse China of currency manipulation, which today makes even less sense than before.

Clinton supports the shift of 60 percent of US military ships to the Asia Pacific, which has contributed to increasing rearmament and friction in the region. She is unlikely to cut military spending even though the US already spends $600 billion on defense annually, more than the next seven countries combined.

She also fully supports the ‘new Cold War’ against Russia. Indeed, the Bush era neoconservatives have joined Clinton’s campaign, including Robert Kagan who has supported China’s containment since the late 1990s, and his wife, Victoria Nuland, who has played a highly controversial role as Obama’s representative in Ukraine.

Neoconservatives have embraced Clinton’s ‘liberal internationalism,’ which justifies efforts at regime changes. In turn, 50 former Republican national security leaders have slammed Trump who would like to renegotiate US pacts with its allies. In the Pentagon, Clinton means ‘more of the same’ continuity.

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