The issue of US-China trade relations featured heavily in Donald Trump’s campaign. When Trump said that ‘the Chinese are laughing at us’, after 8 years of Bush’s intellectual vacuum followed by 8 years of Barack Obama’s misunderstanding and losing the trust of the wider Asian world, it isn’t difficult not to agree with Trump’s assessment.
When Trump continued praising the efficiency and cleverness of Chinese leadership contrasted with the stupidity of deal-makers in Washington, it was equally hard not to agree.
Deng Xiaoping was one of the most far-seeing, wise and economically intelligent men of the 20th century. The economic model he created in China is now the envy of much of the world. China did more to modernise its economy in approximately twenty years, than must countries could manage in centuries.
China in all her immensity, went from practically ancient to fully modern in the blink of an eye. The cleanliness, beauty, technological superiority and safety of China’s great modern cities put the capitals in Europe and North America to shame. Had a version of this economic model been adopted by Moscow in the 1980s, instead of the disaster that was Perestroika, the mightiest state in history, the Soviet Union, would likely still exist.
Donald Trump implicitly respects China and a statement from Chinese president Xi Jinping congratulating Trump on his victory and saying that China and America must enter a new era of cooperation, leaves one optimistic about the future of American-Chinese relations.
Trump’s biggest qualms with China are the poor trade deals that American leadership has negotiated, which allow Chinese goods produced in a comparatively low-wage industrial economy, to flood the US market. Trump has also taken China to task for currency manipulation.
I believe it is in the interests and well within the ability of both men to reach a compromise on these grievances. America should agree to stop provoking China militarily in her sphere of influence and China should restructure her trade deals with the US, which will not only help American products regain competitiveness but will also help China to further develop and innovate her own products which will ultimately, gradually increase the wages for Chinese workers.
One area Trump ought to let lie is patent and copyright disputes. China is the global economic superpower and if US threatens to impose international patent and copyright conventions on China, it will backfire in the most humiliating way imaginable. No country is strong enough to enforce such laws on China, which is why, pragmatically, most have given up.
In the long term, China will realise that when her luxury goods meet the standards of the old-world, reverse engineering will be replaced by innovation in industry, technology and couture. It’s a matter of evolution and so far the Chinese economy continues to evolve more rapidly than most in history.
I believe Donald Trump will have a much better relationship with a business minded Chinese government than did his predecessors. This will help to further isolate the stagnating economies in Europe, whose leaders continue to be naive about where geopolitical power actually lies in the 21st century.