As the United States, under now President Donald Trump, is increasingly pushing for a “America First” policy other countries globally have been scrambling to understand what exactly would that mean for them. The United States, one of the most influential nations around the world, is constantly talked about by other nations; and even more so now that there is a new, and often, unpredictable president now in office. President Trump, who championed the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”, has begun to go into deeper detail in how he plans to accomplish his idea of greatness.
Trump explained in a TIME magazine interview that he wants to prevent other nations from essentially taking advantage of the United States. Firstly, President Trump is going forward with constructing a wall that would serve as an immigration buffer between the United States and Mexico. On top of that, President Trump is persistent with scrapping any and all trade deals that he believes have shipped jobs and capital out of the United States which has then adversely affected jobs domestically; which consequently could spark a series of trade wars especially with China.
He also plans to reduce the amount of troops stationed in foreign nations’ bases unless they begin to pay to have our presence there. As if there was nothing else to alter, President Trump now wants to back out of the historic Paris Agreement, a treaty that was signed by a plethora of countries to curb the amount of carbon emissions as an act on climate change.
All of these actions point, if they come to fruition, point to a new era in which the United States’ actions and policies will now serve its own interests and no one else. This act of seclusion is seen by China as a way in which the United States no longer has, or wants to be the global leader. China, seeing the opportunity of taking over the helm as the dominant global leader has begun taking steps to do so.
Delegates at the most recent World Economic Forum that took place in Davos, Switzerland, attended by President Xi of China (the first for him and his country) was an important phase in gaining some traction with regards to becoming the dominant leader as the United States seems as if they are stepping back under President Trump. During the forum, President Xi took advantage of the absence of President Trump by taking jabs at the United States’ newfound protectionist policies with statements like they’re essentially “locking oneself in a dark room” which was repeated amongst the many other delegates in attendance.
During his time there, President Xi, stated that China was a strong defender of the environment. In some ways, China has started become an alternative for countries to seek help from both economically and militarily. As President Trump has now formally withdrawn from the Trans Pacific Partnership otherwise known as the TPP, Asian countries still members of the agreement have begun to include China in their revised pact.
China has also stated that they will host an international conference that emphasizes the “One belt, one road” initiative which calls for an immense amount of investment and development in trade routes within that region. This initiative is an attempt to recreate the legendary Silk Road, an ancient trade network that was central to cultural exchanges as well.
Chinese companies have already created buildings, bridges, tunnels, roads, and other things in order to increase trade and instill them as the dominant economic power in that region. Abroad, China has invested several billion dollars in places such as Greece and Hungary in order to improve their infrastructure and to boost trade.
Militarily, as President Trump ensures that he wants to withdraw troops from allied regions seeing that they are receiving protection without any type of compensation in return according to him, countries are further likely to try and find the next superpower to seek protection from; in many cases the frontrunner is China. All of these efforts made by China are in attempt to have countries, both regionally, and internationally begin to depend on them for economic or military aid as opposed to the United States.
While China wants to become the new global force, they have stated many times that they do not want to police the world. There are still some very visible issues at home as well as their interest in asserting their control in seas nearby. As Trump is insistent on removing the title of the Global Enforcer from the United States, China wants to take helm of the global superpower role without the responsibility of policing it.
The next few months will be incredibly interesting as we will learn more about what President Trump will enact while he is in office. Two things are certain, One we must expect the unexpected with President Trump and two, and China will be watching the United States very closely to spot slip-ups to take advantage of.