Trump’s Inconsistent Stance on China Raises Questions

Source: Flickr / Freepik

Donald Trump’s remarks during a recent interview regarding the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his desire for China “to do great” have sparked concerns and confusion. While Trump emphasized his friendship with Xi and China’s success, his comments seem to contradict his”America first” policy priorities.

This inconsistency prompts scrutiny into Trump’s allegiances and his reliability as an authority on US-China relations. As critics point out, the US and China have major conflicts, from intellectual property theft to COVID origins. Trump’s wavering stance muddies the waters, calling the wisdom of trusting his leadership into question.

Trum’s Shifting Rhetoric on China

President Trump has oscillated between praise and criticism of China during his time in office. His rhetoric on China and leader Xi Jinping has been inconsistent, raising questions about his stance and priorities regarding the US-China relationship.

Source: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In a recent interview, Trump reiterated his admiration for Xi, calling him “a very good friend” and stating that “I want China to do great.” However, his praise of Xi contradicts his administration’s harsh policies toward China, including an ongoing trade war and technology restrictions.

Conflicting Rhetoric and Policies

Trump’s conflicting rhetoric and policies have created confusion over his views on China. While Trump portrays China as an economic threat, his flattery of Xi suggests he values their personal relationship. Trump appears torn between an adversarial stance on trade and cooperation on other fronts.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Trump’s comments praising Xi also clash with the perspectives of national security experts and lawmakers from both parties. They view China as a major threat due to its authoritarian policies, human rights abuses, and unfair trade practices. In contrast, Trump has rarely criticized Xi or China on these issues, instead emphasizing their “great” friendship and personal rapport.

From Praise to Condemnation: Trump’s Evolving Views of China’s Leadership

Donald Trump’s stance on China and its leadership has wavered during his time in office. At times, the former President has showered effusive praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “very good friend” and lauding China’s success. However, Trump has also harshly criticized China on other occasions, especially regarding trade policy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: LinkedIn/Dale Roodt

Trump’s praise of Xi is longstanding and part of a pattern of admiring authoritarian leaders. In 2021, Trump referred to Xi as “smart, brilliant, everything perfect,” and as a leader who rules with “an iron fist.” Trump has frequently pointed to his relationships with leaders like Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin as evidence of his diplomatic skill, unlike that of his successor, President Joe Biden.

Hot and Cold on Trade: Trump’s on-Again, Off-Again China Tariffs

On February 4, 2024, former President Donald Trump appeared on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” and commented on his potential trade policies toward China if reelected. During the interview, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him “a very good friend.” However, Trump also threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese imports by over 60% to counter unfair trade practices.

Source: Flickr/Corey Seeman

Trump has a history of conflicting stances on China. Despite starting a trade war with China in 2018 by imposing tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, Trump has frequently complimented Xi. Last year, Trump lauded Xi as “smart, brilliant, everything perfect.”

Trump’s Stance on China is Clearly Inconsistent

Trump’s inconsistent positions on China raise important questions about his priorities and alliances. Expressing goodwill toward China’s success and friendship with Xi seems at odds with an “America First” policy. As one commentator noted, “International politics is not a question of friendship.” Trum’s wavering on China threatens US interests and credibility on the global stage.

Source: Flickr/GooWak Jai

A consistent, principled strategy toward China is needed to counter unfair trade practices while avoiding outright conflict. Flattering dictators like Xi for political gain severely undermines America’s democratic values. Friendship with Xi cannot come at the cost of America’s national interests. Strong, principled leadership is required to navigate this complex relationship.

Trump’s Inconsistent Policy in the South China Sea

Trump took a hard line on China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. The US conducted freedom of navigation operations to challenge China’s claims to disputed islands and reefs. The US also increased arms sales to Taiwan, angering China which views Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Source: Global Times/VCG

At the same time, Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership made it more difficult for the US to counter China’s influence in the region. Trump’s rhetoric on China was also inconsistent and inflammatory at times. He frequently used racist language to refer to the coronavirus as the “China virus” or “kung flu.” This language stoked anti-Asian sentiment and distracted from Trump’s own mishandling of the pandemic.

Trump’s Unpredictable Stance on Hong Kong and Taiwan

Trump initially took a hardline approach to China over Hong Kong. In 2019, he signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in support of pro-democracy protesters. The act imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in human rights abuses. However, Trump later refused to condemn China’s imposition of a repressive national security law in Hong Kong.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

On Taiwan, Trump made bold moves that angered China but later backed down. In 2016, he accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, breaking with decades of diplomatic protocol. The call infuriated China, which sees Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification. Trump subsequently approved arms sales to Taiwan, drawing protests from Beijing.

Mixed Messaging on Human Rights and Religious Freedom in China

Despite Trump’s claims of friendship with Xi Jinping, his administration took measures to counter human rights abuses and restrictions on religious freedom in China. In July 2020, the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Source: Business Insider/Reuters-Murad Sezer

While the Trump administration took substantive actions against human rights violations in China, Trump’s lavish praise of Xi Jinping and autocratic governance raised doubts about his priorities and values. His words often contradicted and diminished the impact of his policies.

Trump’s Love-Hate Relationship With TikTok and Huawei

President Trump has had an inconsistent stance regarding Chinese technology companies during his term in office. On the one hand, Trump considers Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “good friend,” as evidenced by his praise of Xi during a February 2021 interview.

Source: Tech In Asia/Pikist

Trump’s policies targeting TikTok, WeChat, and Huawei stand in contrast with his claims that Xi Jinping was his “good friend.” While personal relationships with foreign leaders are important in geopolitics, national security concerns may necessitate policy actions against their countries’ companies.

What Do Trump’s Inconsistencies Mean for the Future of US-China Relations?

Despite starting a trade war with China and accusing the nation of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, and human rights abuses, Trump continues to lavish praise on Xi, calling him a “good friend” and saying he wants China to “do great.” However, Trump’s policies do not match this rhetoric.

Source: TXF News/Jonathan Bell

Trump’s praise of dictators like Xi is part of a concerning pattern. Trump has a history of flattering authoritarian leaders, referring to Xi as “smart, brilliant, everything perfect,” and saying he rules China with “an iron fist.” This approach undermines America’s global standing and credibility.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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