The United States and China: Ruptures and Realignments in Trump’s First Six Months

Research output: Other contribution


Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States in late 2016 brought expectations of radical departures in US politics and foreign policy. Of all the candidates – Republican and Democrat – Trump was the most vocal on China during his campaign. His rhetoric swung from professing a ‘love’ for China to claiming that it is guilty of ‘raping’ the United States. Yet his unwavering appeal to right wing populism ensured that in the winner-take-all, zero-sum world he
portrayed, Chinese gains were seen as the cause of American losses. Prior to the election it was widely expected that Hillary Clinton would come to occupy the White House, and that while her long-time political criticisms of China argued for modifications in Washington’s relations with Beijing, she would in all likelihood have sought to broadly follow the path trodden by Barrack Obama. Where do we stand six months after the election of Trump? What has been President Trump’s early approach towards China and what has been the Chinese response? What do the politics and worldviews of the Trump administration reveal about the balance of US-China relations today? Who in the Trump administration has been influential in steering China policy? And what do Trump’s first six months in charge tell us about what the remainder of his tenure might hold for US-China relations? Ultimately, we find that within the bounds of US-China relations,
Trump’s first six months as president have been simultaneously of note and entirely unremarkable. His extreme political naiveties and idiosyncrasies have produced ruptures in the relationship, while competing forces beyond his control have forced familiar realignments.
Original languageEnglish
TypeBriefing paper
PublisherSwedish Institute of International Affairs
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

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