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If Trump Wins the Election

November 25 , 2021 07:00 PM by ZHAO Minghao

Since Trump took office in January 2017, the United States has significantly adjusted its policy toward China, intensifying its strategic competition with China in many areas, including the economy, security, diplomacy, and politics, and adopting a "whole-of-government" and "whole-of-society" strategy to build a multilateral mechanism to isolate and suppress China, with some policy initiatives even taking on a "confrontational" character.

In the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump and his campaign team have made speculation on "China issues" a core electoral strategy. Kushner, a senior adviser to the president and a key leader of the campaign, has said that attacking China is an important way to rebuild Trump's voter base.

In addition, Trump has also accused Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of having ties to China, labeling him as "soft on China" and promoting hyperbole such as "if Biden is elected, China will take over the U.S.".

If re-elected, Trump and his core policy team would argue that the U.S. policy of escalating pressure on China over the past few years has been approved by voters. Based on the analysis of a series of China-related remarks during Trump's campaign and his second-term administration highlights and other documents, it can be judged that further intensifying the suppression of China or even creating more confrontation will be the basic direction of the Trump administration's China policy in the second term. If Secretary of State Pompeo, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs O'Brien, Senior White House Advisor Navarro and other hawkish figures continue to stay in office, the confrontational nature of the U.S. policy toward China will intensify.

Specifically, the Trump administration's China policy in the second term is likely to show the following orientations.


The Trump administration will seize on the issue of accountability for the epidemic to further increase pressure on China

The Trump campaign has pegged the "blame China" issue to Trump's re-election as the situation in the U.S. continues to deteriorate with the new pneumonia epidemic. In an article published during the Republican National Convention, Navarro said the United States needs to re-elect Trump if it is to defeat the "China virus" and hold China accountable for the huge losses the United States has incurred in the outbreak.

In his second term, Trump and others are expected to further hype the issue of accountability for the epidemic as an important tool to reinforce negative perceptions of China among the U.S. public and to enhance the "legitimacy" of his China containment policies. Although Trump claims that the U.S. will return to normalcy from the epidemic in 2021, the epidemic is likely to intensify further and cause a halt to the U.S. economic recovery. In such a scenario, the Trump administration is bound to increase its attacks on China and demand compensation from China for the losses suffered by the countries involved, including the United States, as a result of the epidemic. Marsha Blackburn , Lindsey Graham , Rick Scott  and other members of the U.S. Congress with close ties to Trump have called for retaliatory measures such as writing down China's holdings of U.S. Treasuries and expropriating Chinese assets in the United States.

In addition to the U.S. itself taking on China, the Trump administration may also push related countries to work together to form a coalition of recourse claims against China, taking such malicious initiatives as joint prosecution, levying Chinese assets in each country separately, declaring the annulment of Chinese debt, and repossessing assets pledged to China.

In addition, considering that Trump has stated in his second term that he will prepare for possible new epidemics in the future, the U.S. side may further marginalize the World Health Organization and set up a multilateral arrangement to deal with the epidemic, modeled on the "International Partnership for Avian Influenza" established under George W. Bush Jr. and excluding China, in order to achieve the goal of using the epidemic factor to further isolate China.


The Trump administration will focus on creating an international structure to suppress China and promote multilateralization of U.S. efforts to contain China

The main criticism of the Trump administration's China policy in the first term of the U.S. strategic community is that Trump has "gone it alone" with China, failing to effectively unite allies and partners to exert pressure on China. The second term of the Trump administration should seek to address this issue by focusing on building and continuing to consolidate institutional arrangements that would provide strong pressure on China. For example, the Trump administration will promote the "Six Eyes Alliance" mechanism (with Japan joining) and put into practice the idea of the "Democracy 10" mechanism. In addition, the Trump administration will continue to expand the "Economic Prosperity Network" and other mechanisms to bring together governments, parliaments, and businesses of relevant countries to limit and weaken China's influence in global economic, political, and security affairs. Through these mechanisms, the Trump administration will increase information sharing about the so-called "China threat" and achieve multilateralization of policies and actions to curb China, thereby building the "new liberal order" (a new liberal order) preached by Pompeo.

At the same time, the Trump administration will increase its strategic competition with China at the level of international organizations and weaken China's influence in global governance. The key points of Trump's second-term administration clearly state that it will "drain the swamp of globalists and deal with international organizations that harm American citizens. In the next phase, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may issue a report on China's influence on international organizations to the detriment of U.S. interests, and the U.S. administration and Congress will work together to implement countermeasures. The Trump administration is expected to intensify its "offensive" against international organizations that have strong ties to China or are important to Chinese interests, including the International Telecommunication Union, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, where Chinese citizens are heads or senior officials.


The Trump administration will continue to promote a "partial decoupling" of the U.S. and Chinese economies, further weakening China's position of power in the international economic system

Trump has emphasized that his second term will provide greater support for "Made in America" and create tens of millions of jobs in the United States. The Trump team has made it essential to achieve this goal by promoting the return of U.S. companies from China and limiting China's influence in the supply chain of the global industrial chain. He recognizes that "decoupling" from China will be costly and lengthy, so a "phased, sectoral" approach is needed to move forward.

The Trump administration's second term will focus on promoting U.S.-China "decoupling" in industries such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, communications and electronic equipment, robotics, and raw materials for defense products. The U.S. side will use repatriation funds, tax incentives, and relocation credits to induce U.S. companies to move out of China, and if they have difficulty returning to the U.S., they will move into the member countries or regions of the "economic prosperity network.

In addition, the Trump administration will increase sanctions against Chinese companies and related institutions for reasons such as national security and human rights violations, thereby pushing the U.S. business community to reduce its ties with China.

At the international level, the Trump administration will support other approaches to counteract China's economic influence, in addition to continuing to promote the "coordinated decoupling" of other countries from the United States through the "Economic Prosperity Network" mechanism. For example, the U.S. will support the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, a joint initiative of Japan, India, and Australia, and will promote the inclusion of ASEAN and other countries in the mechanism to promote "coordinated decoupling" on a broader scale.


The Trump administration will deepen its technological competition with China in an "offensive and defensive" manner, hindering the development of China's science and technology relations with the international community

In recent years, the Trump administration has strengthened export controls on China by expanding the "entity list" to prevent China from acquiring advanced technology products such as chips, and his second term may increase technological suppression of China on the "offensive" side.

In his second term, Trump proposed to establish a permanent manned experiment station on the moon and send humans to Mars, win competition in 5G and next-generation wireless network technology, and "continue to lead the world" in providing clean water and air. The Trump administration has increased spending on artificial intelligence and quantum information science and technology by 30 percent in the FY 2021 non-defense budget, totaling nearly $2.2 billion.

There is a bipartisan consensus to increase investment in technology research and development and to reform the U.S. research system to address competitive pressures from China. Members of Congress are pushing for the "Endless Frontier", a cross-party bill that would require the federal government to increase spending by $100 billion over the next five years to promote core technologies such as artificial intelligence and their industrial applications, and to overhaul the National Science Foundation and other mechanisms. In addition to the United States itself to increase investment, the Trump administration will also promote Europe, Japan and other allies and the United States jointly funded to support the research and development of advanced technologies and "alternative products".

In addition, the Trump administration will further strengthen the role of ideological factors in the technological competition between major powers. The U.S. may use the Global Partnership Initiative on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) as a model to deepen collaboration among so-called democracies in advanced technology research and development, and to develop technology products and applications that are consistent with their values.

On the "defense" side, the second term of the Trump administration will continue to tighten export controls while focusing on strengthening import controls, further strengthening the investment review mechanism for technology-related industries, and pressuring Germany, Israel and other countries to increase their efforts to block and control technology in China, including jointly imposing restrictions on relevant Chinese companies and institutions, improving information sharing in investment reviews, and promoting the development of technology-related products and services. The U.S. will also work together to improve information sharing, promote intelligence and law enforcement efforts related to technology competition, and jointly promote relevant legislation at the parliamentary level. In addition to government coordination, the U.S. will "export" its experience and practices in dealing with Chinese intellectual property theft and academic espionage to pressure foreign research institutions, universities, and companies to adopt U.S.-style initiatives.


The Trump administration will further limit China's influence in the United States and promote "cultural decoupling" and ideological dichotomy

During the election, Trump frequently mentioned the threat posed by "socialism" and the "radical left" to the United States, and his second-term administration highlights the need to increase "American exceptionalism education" in U.S. schools. The key points of his second term in office emphasize the need to increase "American exceptionalism education" in American schools. If Trump is re-elected, "alternative right-wing" and populist trends may intensify in the United States, and the ideological "bastioning" of the United States will be more pronounced.

In this context, the Trump administration may launch a stronger ideological "offensive" against China in its second term, intensifying its advocacy of the threat posed by the so-called "communist China" to the United States and the so-called "free world," and promoting an ideological offensive with a strong focus on China. The Trump administration may launch an even stronger ideological "offensive" against China in its second term, increasing the threat posed by so-called "communist China" to the United States and the so-called "free world" and promoting a racist "anti-communist" campaign. The Trump administration will further hype China's "infiltration" of U.S. politics and society and increase restrictions on normal exchanges between the two countries in the areas of culture, education, and journalism. The Trump administration will also create a "McCarthyist" atmosphere in the United States through so-called counter-espionage and counter-intelligence operations, crack down on Chinese institutions and individuals in the United States, and continuously restrict humanistic exchanges between China and the United States.

It is worth being alerted that the Trump administration will use the "Center for Global Engagement" under the U.S. State Department and the newly established U.S. Global Media Agency to launch "information warfare" operations against China, adding to the framework of promoting strategic competition among major powers. "Narrative warfare. At the same time, the Trump administration will use mechanisms such as the Global Cooperation and Training Structure to bring together Australia, Taiwan, Poland and others to address China's so-called "influence operations" and "disinformation operations. "The Trump administration will continue to pressure China at the political level through mechanisms such as the Global Cooperation and Training Structure.

In addition, the Trump administration will continue to manipulate the Xinjiang issue, using labels like "genocide" to stigmatize China's policies and actions in order to inflame "hostility" toward China among the public in Western countries and Islamic countries. The Trump administration has already created the post of "special coordinator for Tibetan issues" in the State Department, and it is expected that the U.S. will further increase its efforts to play the "Tibetan card" in Sino-U.S. relations in its second term.