[I edited this project for the PRIMO blog and contributed to the section on China]
PRIMO fellows have spent the last two years trying to make sense of the changes currently taking place in the configuration of the world order. Last week’s election in the United States will most certainly influence these changes — the question arising is: how? For Francis Fukuyama, this election represents a critical juncture: many countries are returning to populist nationalism, because the benefits of the liberal world order with its global value chains — despite fuelling global growth and facilitating movement of goods and people — have not filtered down to everyone.
Indeed, in many of the countries represented by the PRIMO Network, Trump’s victory has been welcomed. In particular, rising powers that have demanded a larger say in the international system may welcome an America led by Trump, as the power of the US is seen to further decline, and as a less interventionist foreign policy strategy may be adopted. Similarly, representatives of right-wing parties and governments in Europe have celebrated Trump’s win. Surprise at the election outcome was most noticeable in Germany and Turkey, but many governments and observers are worried about their own security, global stability, and the possible economic effects that an increase in protectionist policies may bring about.
The following contributions show that most leaders remain cautious, as there is little certainty over Trump’s course of action. Who will take up positions as Trump’s advisers? Which campaign promises will he be able to deliver on? To what extent will Congress, the federal structure of the US, and the courts act as constraining powers? The answers to these questions remain to be seen.
Read on for responses to Trump’s victory and insights from Rising Powers (Brazil, China, Russia, and Turkey), an economic view from the BRICS, as well as views from Europe (Germany, Italy and the Visegrád 4).
China seemed less surprised by Trumps’s victory than other countries. Commentators contend that the largest challenge for the Chinese government may lie in the uncertainty of Trump’s China policies and possible advisers, and whether Trump can deliver on his campaign promises. For instance, Trump has repeatedly threatened a trade and currency war with China. Fuelled by expectations that TPP will not be ratified, Beijing is moving forward with its plans for an Asian-Pacific Free Trade Area.
While on election day, media coverage was scant, an official commentary appearing on the day after Trump’s victory in People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the CCP, depicts the results of the US election as confusing and unstable. To its domestic audience, anger, riots, and racial and social divisions in the process are cited as evidence of deep social contradictions in the US as well as the dilemma in and fragility of American democracy. Regarding the implications of Trump’s presidency for US foreign policy, both People’s Daily and Global Times, which often represent hawkish voices within the CCP, perceived changes along with greater uncertainty, and consider the Trump administration a destabilising factor in world politics. According to published media interviews, even though a variety of top analysts from China’s leading IR institutes have generally suggested the unpredictability of the election’s long-term impact on China’s foreign policy interests at the current stage, they are more or less concerned with the “businessman nature” of the President-elect, and an increasing pressure from the US for China to make more economic concessions.
Snapshots of interviews with people in Beijing and Shanghai reflect worries that as a businessman Trump might not understand politics. However, as a businessman, he is also widely admired and his TV show The Apprentice is quite popular in China. A poll by the South China Morning Post revealed that 39% of the respondents favoured Trump – a higher percentage than in other Asian countries, where Trump only scored around 13%. The paper concludes that even though Chinese people are not too keen on Trump either, they also do not approve of Clinton. This Chinese view seems largely consistent with public opinion, media coverage, and other polls.