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Hawkish Hillary or unpredictable Trump: Choice China faces

By Harvey Dzodin ( Updated: 2016-10-13 11:21

Hawkish Hillary or unpredictable Trump: Choice China faces

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Convention of the American Legion in Cincinnati, Ohio, US, August 31, 2016. [Photo/Agencies] 

With weeks to go until the bizarre US presidential campaigns ends, the outcome is still uncertain. What does a President Clinton or Trump mean for Sino-US relations? Will we continue to be the best of frenemies, loving and loathing each other, but recognizing that our bilateral relationship is the world’s most important?

Observers should always declare their bias. The early 20th century humorist, Will Rogers said, “ I am not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” And so am I, but now it’s the Republican party that’s in utter disarray.

Foreign policy requires predictability to enable nations to determine how best to pursue national interest. This is why our countries have so many analysts trying to determine and prioritize probable scenarios and how to respond to them. The more transparency, the better. This is why Trump would be such a disaster. Trump is a serial liar whose own term for it is “truthful hyperbole”. But he occasionally tells the truth as I believe he did last April at a speech in Washington when he said that “we as a nation have to be more unpredictable”. This is a recipe for international relations disaster.

Judging from Trump’s comments and the Republican National Committee platform, Sino-US relations will definitely emphasize the second syllable of “frenemies”. China can look forward to economic warfare from punitive US tariffs and trade barriers. Trump wants to upend the post-1945 world order, end alliances, close military bases in places like Japan and Korea and let allies fend for themselves. However this is merely an educated guess because we don’t know who will advise Trump and if he will listen to them, but they’re likely to be seasoned cold warriors and neoconservatives, the likes of whom brought us the “liberation” of Iraq and other disasters for which the world still suffers mightily.

Nevertheless, Trump has masterfully tapped into widespread malaise and massaged it to the verge of being elected. All of Hillary Clinton’s numerous expert and political endorsements mean nothing to the 21st century Luddites of Trump’s Know Nothing party. In fact, they motivate Trump supporters to more strongly oppose establishment candidates led by “Crooked Hillary”.

I know that many Chinese friends don’t care for Clinton. She is the author of the pivot to Asia. She’s a hawk who, while generally representing a continuation of Obama policies, will definitely be playing hardball.

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