Trump will be good for China

Jack Chen’s politics teacher is a big fan of Donald Trump.

My 13-year-old student’s teacher – who I’m sure teaches primary school students the “correct” view of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics as determined by the Chinese Communist Party – told Jack’s class this week that Trump will be a great president.

For China.

Hillary Clinton, he told Jack, would’ve been tough on China. She would’ve supported Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines in their struggle to stop an ever-more-assertive China from claiming dubious military ownership of their territorial waters in the South China Sea. Clinton would’ve pursued an economic agenda that strengthened America’s influence in Asia, bolstered China’s neighbors, and sidelined China’s attempts to set economic and diplomatic policy for the region.

Instead, he said, America has Trump, who will be too disengaged, too disorganized, too disinterested, to do any of those things.

Already it’s looking good for China.

Trump pledged this week to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Day 1 of his presidency, opening up a space into which Beijing is coiled to spring.  There’s plenty about the TPP for an anti-free trader to criticize, but American involvement in the trade deal signaled the American commitment to economic and diplomatic leadership in the Pacific. Pulling out as Trump has promised to do makes the trade pact “meaningless”, according to the Japanese government, and effectively ends the era of credible American leadership in Asia.

China sees its opening.

For years, the Chinese government has worked parallel to the Americans in pushing its own regional trade agreement. That pact, while more traditional than the ambitious open-economies nature of the TPP, excludes America much like the TPP, which would have involved 12 countries and accounted for more than 1/3 of global trade, had left out China.

With Washington pushing the TPP, China’s more limited trade framework had gained little traction in East Asia, but with the U.S. out of the picture under Trump, the Chinese leadership will be thrilled to take up the role that America has discarded.

Here’s what the Party mouthpiece Global Times had to say:

“The US sought supremacy over everything in the past few years. However, it didn’t have enough national strength to bolster this unrealistic goal. Trump appears to be redesigning the US leadership, withdrawing the country from fields in which he thinks resources are being wasted. China thus will gain some room to exert its influence.”

From here on the Chinese Communist Party likely sets the standard in Asia on environmental rules, labor regulations, trade policies, and intellectual property protections. No one should be pleased about that.

Well, almost no one. As that teacher told Jack, “Trump will be good for China”.

 

Quick notes about Trump in China

1.

The day after Donald J. Trump became the next president of the American republic, I listened to two of my students’ parents argue about the election results. It went like this:

A: “I like Trump. He is a strong leader.”

B: “My God. Trump? He doesn’t have any character. Not even a little.”

I’ll let you guess which one uses their smartphone to watch Party-sponsored dramas (without headphones of course) while their kid is in class and which one reads the news.

2.

The Chinese government has told international media outlets that they did not in fact invent global warming to reduce America’s manufacturing competitiveness, as Trump has claimed.

My Chinese friends find this hilarious. They are not laughing with us.

But of course they wouldn’t. They’re communists.