March 27, 2016
Trumping the World: The Donald Way
by Tho Xin Yi
I AM sure by now, everyone – including those who do not take the slightest interest in politics – is aware that Donald J. Trump wants to be the next United States President.
During his campaign in the primaries, he had outlandishly pledged to ban Muslim visitors from entering the United States and proposed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border as part of his immigration reform.
Above all, he aspired to “Make America Great Again” – a slogan first used by Ronald Reagan and which was later trademarked by Trump.
The billionaire tycoon, who will be 70 this year, has targeted China too in his campaign. “I beat China all the time. All the time,” he declared. He called China a currency manipulator and vowed to end China’s theft of intellectual property, which he said “may be the greatest transfer of wealth in history”.
In selling his Trump plan, the Republican presidential primary candidate said if he became the US President, China would have to stop forcing American companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese rivals as a condition to enter the Chinese market.
By ending China’s “illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards”, Trump said millions of jobs would be restored in the US and the American manufacturing industry would be revived.
“No more sweatshops or pollution havens stealing jobs from American workers.”
Trump, who is currently leading the Republican field, promised to tackle the national debt and the deficit so that China cannot blackmail the US with American Treasury bonds.He also wanted to boost the US military presence in the East and South China Seas, where China is engaged in sovereignty rows with neighbouring countries, to “discourage Chinese adventurism”.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was asked about some of these concerns during his once-a-year press conference in Beijing last week. He replied that business cooperation between China and US had always been mutually beneficial, “something that I believe the US business people know best.”
Li lamented that many people preferred to focus on conflicts and neglected the fact that China has (surpassed Canada to) become the number one trading partner of the US in 2015, with bilateral trade reaching US$560bil (RM2.27tril).
He promised wider market access to US investors in gradual steps and hoped for reciprocity, emphasising that the negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty would proceed on the basis of mutual benefit.
Li was confident that no matter which candidate gets elected into the White House, the underlying trend of forward-moving China-US ties would not change its course.
But state-owned Chinese media were less courteous, preferring to make full use of Trump’s rise to denounce democracy. In an Op-ed, Global Times commented that Americans are well aware that elections cannot really change their lives.
“(Trump) has been called another Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler by some Western media. “Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections, a heavy lesson for Western democracy,” it said.
The English-language daily also labelled Trump as “big-mouthed, anti-traditional, abusively forthright” and “rich, narcissist and inflammatory”.
“His job was basically to act as a clown to attract more voters’ attention to the GOP.”
National news agency Xinhua said the rise of Trump reflected the tough economic recovery in the US and the decline of US geopolitical power.
His popularity over the other candidates with more political experience proved the “malfunction of the US democracy”, it added, “as people would not choose a president who is responsible to lead the country, but to vent their grievance and anger over the reality on government and politicians”.
Amid his criticisms on China, Trump had described the Chinese government as strong and powerful in handling the “riot”, referring to the Tiananmen pro-democracy protest, although he was quick to add that it was a horrible thing.
Wang Dan, who led the student movement in 1989, said Trump now qualified for a CPC membership with his comments.
Writing for Time magazine, Wang condemned Trump over his choice of words. “If a bloody repression can be praised as a ‘strong, powerful’ action, what does this mean about American values, especially when this blatant mischaracterisation comes from a presidential candidate?”
There are still a few months to go before the national conventions in July, where presidential nominees and their vice-presidential running mates will be officially announced, so we can expect more blatant quotes from Trump.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has placed a Trump Presidency among the top 10 global risks, warning that his militaristic approaches towards the Middle East and Muslims could pose serious security threats. However, it does not think Trump would defeat his most likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
As for China, no matter whether Trump’s White House dream comes true, Trump air purifiers and Trump toilet seats will be here to stay. These Trump-branded items, long manufactured by Chinese companies that are not affiliated to the presidential hopeful, came into the limelight recently as the US election fever spread to the world.
Toilet maker Shenzhen Trump Industrial Co Ltd had said sharing the same name with the American mogul was a mere coincidence, and the letter “U” was added into its original trademark of “TRMP” to represent a toilet lid.