The dust is close to settling on the battle to secure nominations for both parties in the U.S. general election. Along with the withdrawal of the two remaining nominees for the Republican Party, Donald Trump has almost secured his party’s nomination, and on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is only one step away from her party’s nomination. If nothing unexpected happens, then this year’s presidential election will be Trump vs. Clinton.
Clinton or Trump? Chinese netizens are reasonably interested, and each has their preference, as is normal. As the world’s first and second largest economic powers, the development of bilateral relations between the U.S. and China is of great concern to the whole world. There is a trend in some media outlets to make people worry, such as these titles that I recently saw: “U.S. election plot reversal – China’s good fortune will dominate the White House,” and “China’s luck has sidelined Biden and will see Clinton become the next president,” etc.
Is Trump really a blessing for China? Let’s take a look at his views on China.
In politics, Trump has emphasized geopolitics and the military when discussing the economy, especially in terms of the South China Sea and North Korea. If you visit Trump’s election website, you might be astonished to read the suggestion that during trade negotiations with China, the U.S. should exert its military influence as a demonstration of strength. On the issue of the South China Sea, some people believe that Trump will soften, but on the issue of North Korea, Trump’s speeches are becoming tougher. After North Korea’s so-called H-bomb test, Trump told Fox News that America must force China to resolve the problem, and if China doesn’t “solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult for China.” During the first Republican Party debate in February, Trump stated that China has “total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they’re rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem.” These statements amply demonstrate Trump’s position on China, and this absolutely does not tally with the image of a “blessing.”
On the issue of the economy, Trump has a list of countries that are currently “exploiting” America, and on that list is China. During this election, he has repeatedly denounced China’s manipulation of the renminbi exchange rate, and its implementation of a customs duty protection policy, leading to many work opportunities being drained away from the U.S. to such an extent that many of the U.S.’s local factories are going bankrupt. He has even claimed that, if he were to be elected as president, he would impose a 45 percent increase in the customs duty on Chinese-made products imported into the U.S. in order to protect U.S. domestic industries. But according to ordinary Chinese job-seekers, Trump is becoming more and more of a bad omen. For example, after he won the primary election in Florida he claimed that if he becomes president, “Apple and all these great companies will be making their products in the United States, not in China, Vietnam.” This will not work once he has taken office. This sort of viewpoint itself is fundamentally harmful to the two countries’ future trade cooperation. How can it be said that he is a “blessing?”
According to those Chinese families who have family members studying abroad, Trump is becoming their “nemesis.” The most important part of his immigration policy is that employers give precedence to American job-seekers. He would also like to reform the H-1B visas for foreigners who go to America for work, and to tie this visa to legislation; thus he will be able to construct the wall he wants on the border, and to subsidize large-scale deportations. But the most immediate danger that would come from Trump becoming president would be his exploitation of his presidential power. He could cancel or limit the H-1B visa, he could cancel or curtail the OPT visas* for STEM students that have already been extended. If he really did this, students studying abroad, or visiting scholars who were wanting to stay for a few more years to study advanced technology management will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stay in America.
Looking at previous American presidential elections, China and foreign policies toward China have always been a topic for presidential nominees, but Trump’s prejudice toward China is deep-rooted, and the quotes noted above are just a drop in the ocean compared to all the remarks he has made about China.
Ultimately, in the current polls of Clinton and Trump’s popularity ratings, it is only the Rasmussen Reports that put Trump two points ahead of Clinton; other opinion polls put Clinton in the lead, ahead by between 3 and 13 points; currently Clinton’s lead average is 6.4 percent.
*Editor’s note: The Optional Practical Training visa permits temporary employment for foreign students.